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Oedipus the King
In the play Oedipus The King, I will apply the concept of the tragic hero to the character Oedipus. The perception of the tragic hero evokes our pity and terror if he is neither thoroughly good nor thoroughly evil but a mixture of both. The tragic effect is stronger if the hero is more moral than we are. The tragic hero suffers a change in fortune from happiness to misery because of a mistaken act, which he performs due to his hamartia error of judgment. A form of hamartia is hubris \'pride\' which leads the tragic hero to ignore or violate a divine warning or moral law. The tragic hero evokes our pity because he is not evil and his misfortune is greater than he deserves. He evokes our fear because we realize we are fallible and could make the same error. It would appear from this definition that Oedipus could be described as a tragic hero.
Oedipus was the hero of Thebes. He was considered to be a man of noble stature.
Oedipus was of an illustrious family, highly renowned, and prosperous. The king Oedipus "saved us from the Sphinx," (Prologue 38-39). The people of Thebes respected Oedipus, because he saved the city from the Sphinx, by answering the riddle. Oedipus was not a native Theban. He was a man possessing tremendous self-confidence and courage. When he succeeds, freeing the city from the Sphinx\'s evil reign, he becomes instantly famous and known for his bravery and intelligence. Indeed Oedipus is idealized by the Thebans, yet at times he seems to spite the gods, assuming authority that normally belongs to them. He has no clear vision, which enables him to examine every side of a matter with unclouded eyes, and to see all things in due perspective. Nor has Oedipus a calm wisdom, which is always the master of his passions. His emotions, his thoughts, even his errors, have an ardent generosity, which stirs our deepest sympathy.
Oedipus is a model of a tragic hero, because he ultimately commits fearful deeds. The tragic hero’s fall, results from his committing “an act of injustice.” He kills his father and marries his mother. Oedipus is damned for his fearful deed and, because of his deed he had almost destroyed the city of Thebes. Oedipus\' changes to a man in denial, a man more like a tyrant than a king, as he begins to solve the new riddle of Laius\' death. A growing paranoia grips Oedipus when Jocaste recounts the story of her husband\'s murder, leading the king to suspect his own past actions. He remarks, "I think that I myself may be accurst by my own ignorant edict" (Scene II, 216-217). Yet Oedipus is not quick to blame himself for the plague of the city—indeed he tries to place the burden onto others as he continues his investigation, blindly trusting his own superior ability while ignoring the damaging evidence that surrounds him. For example, when Tiresias accuses Oedipus of being the murderer, the king takes the counter-offensive, actually accusing Tiresias of the murder when he asserts, "You planned it, you had I done, you all but killed him with your own hands" (Scene I, 129-130). Similarly, he blames Creon for conspiracy and treason. In this way, Oedipus chooses to attack the messenger while disregarding the message.
Oedipus’ downfall is his own fault, not fate. He thought he could change his destiny, but instead he ran right into it. Oedipus ran into the king who was his real father, and killed him as the Oracles had said would happen. He ran right into the city of Thebes where his mother lived. Oedipsu solved the riddle of the Sphinx, and as a result he married his mother. He couldn\'t avoid his destiny. Oedipus finally realizes the truth. “Oh light, may I look on you for the last time!" (Scene IV, 70). The tragic hero is a man who fails to attain happiness, and fails in such a way that his career excites, not blame, but fear and pity in the highest degree. He is not eminently good and just, not completely under the guidance of true reason, but as falling through some great error flaw of character, rather than through vice of depravity. His downfall
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Oedipus the King, Oedipus, Ancient Greek theatre, Narratology, Plot, Poetics, Sophocles, Hamartia, Creon, Jocasta, Tiresias, Tragic hero
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