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Published: 20-11-2019

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The tragedy of Oedipus

The tragedy of Oedipus the King by Sophocles, is a story of a man named Oedipus who becomes king, and by way of a series of events, ultimately meets his downfall. Through his display of hubris and hamartia all through the play, Oedipus has risen and fallen. Oedipus” misfortune has been argued as “some error of judgement of frailty”, or if he is just a tragic hero doomed with a tragic flaw. A tragic hero is “the protagonist, the hero or chief character of a tragedy, is a individual of high estate, usually a king, queen, or member of the royal household, who is neither superlatively excellent and just not wholly vicious and depraved, but who is brought low by some error of judgment or shortcoming”.

In Oedipus Rex, a play written by Sophocles, Oedipus” hubris and hamartia eventually lead him to his downfall, making him a tragic hero. The very first top quality of Oedipus that justifies him as a tragic hero is his hubris. Hubris is defined by the Webster-Merriam dictionary as “Exaggerated pride or confidence”. Oedipus is a proud man praised as the King of Thebes and the defeater of the Sphinx, but it is his pride, his personal belief that he is a excellent man who is favored by the gods. As the Chorus said, “Pride breeds the tyrant violent pride, gorging, crammed to bursting with all that is overripe and rich with ruin—clawing up to the heights, headlong pride crashes down the abyss—sheer doom!” (ln 963-967).

In his try to locate the facts to prove he is favored by the gods, he only proves to himself that he suffers from a cruel fate. Oedipus” hubris also influences him to fulfill the oracle and further intensify his punishment from the Gods. Even prior to Oedipus came into power as the King of Thebes, he permitted his arrogance to control his judgment and reign over his actions. Despite the fact that he has sufficient reverence to the deities not to assume himself to be an equal with the gods, but greater than them it is clear that Oedipus perceives himself to be of a greater significance than the lesser mortals that surround him. As he said, “One of you summon the city right here prior to us, tell them I’ll do every little thing. God support us, we will see our triumph-or our fall” (ln 163-165). He is conceited to consider that he can shape his personal destiny and the gods can punish him for this arrogance. Another good quality of Oedipus that confirms the notion of him getting a tragic hero is his hamartia. Hamartia is defined as a private error in a protagonist’s character, which brings about his tragic downfall in a tragedy. The defect in a hero’s personality is also identified as their “tragic flaw”. 1 of Oedipus” tragic flaws displayed in the tragedy is his lack of self-knowledge. When he hears the story of how the king, Laius, was brutally murdered, Oedipus is eager to get to the bottom of the story and discover the particular person who is guilty. He by no means wonders if it is him, even though he knows he murdered a man not really extended ago. When Oedipus is confronted by Tiresias about the murder of Laius, he is shocked and appalled that an individual would say such a issue about him, showing that he feels he can do no wrong. He becomes outraged and says to Tiresias, “You, shameless- aren’t you appalled to start up such a story? You feel you can get away with this?” (ln 356-357) and in the end begins to place the blame on Tiresias.

This shows that Oedipus cannot appear inside himself to discover the truth, and he does not want to know the truth about himself. Also Oedipus states, “Lost in the evening, endless evening that nursed you! You cannot hurt me or anybody else who sees the light—you can never ever touch me” (ln 879-880). This furthers the truth that Oedipus was made a fatal mistake in his understanding of the details. He kills his own father and marries his mother out of ignorance. He has set a curse on the man who kills his father, not being aware of that it is he who has carried out so, making his personal downfall. The theme of Oedipus plays a fantastic part in proving how Oedipus is a tragic hero, doomed with a tragic flaw. The theme of “the limits of totally free will” is described as the power of acting with no the constraint of necessity or fate the ability to act at one’s own discretion. It is tough to say how justly a single can accuse Oedipus of becoming “blind” or foolish when he appears to have no selection about fulfilling the prophecy. As Teiresias mentioned to Oedipus, “I have no much more to say storm as thou willst, and give the rein to all thy pent-up rage” (ln 341-347). Regardless of what Oedipus does or says, fate will always play itself out. Similarly as Jocasta says to Oedipus, . “A prophet! Husband, listen to Me. No human becoming on Earth need worry what prophets say. I’ll prove it. A prophet came to Laius Not God, a prophet only and told him that one day his son…” (ln 707-725).

Jocasta is attempting to clarify to Oedipus that the prophecy could not possibly be true and that he need to not worry about such a point. She is bringing him to the realization that fate will occur regardless of what other people say or do. Oedipus appears only to desire to flee his fate, but his fate continually catches up with him. Oedipus, a man who becomes King and by means of a series of events, in the end meets his downfall has been argued as “some error of judgement of frailty”, or if he is a tragic hero however doomed with a tragic flaw. By way of Oedipus” components of hubris and hamartia, he eventually meets his downfall, deeming him a tragic hero.
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