Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, tells the tale of Oedipus, a tragic hero. Oedipus sets out to rid his city, Thebes, of the plague by finding the murderer of Laius. However, along the way, he finds that he was the one that killed Laius and married the widowed queen Jocasta, his mother. Because of Oedipus’ high rank, high morals, flaws, recognition, and there being reversals and a catharsis within the play, Oedipus is classified as an Aristotelian tragic hero.
Because of his high status in society and his high morals, Oedipus can be considered a tragic hero. When the priest first addresses Oedipus, he says, “Oedipus, you who rule my land…” (11). The priest directly states that Oedipus is the king, reflecting Oedipus’ high status. Besides his high rank, Oedipus also shows that he has high ethical characteristics. When addressing the people of Thebes about the poor status of the city, Oedipus states, “…my soul groans for the city, for me and you/together” (13). He feels more pain than the people individually do because he pains for all of them. Oedipus genuinely cares about the well-being of his people, also showing his ethical characteristics. Through his high rank in society and high moral standards, one can classify Oedipus as an Aristotelian tragic hero.
Oedipus shows that he is a flawed man. This is also helps to classify him as a tragic hero. When Tiresias claims that Oedipus killed Laius and is poisoning the city, Oedipus says, “Am I to tolerate hearing from this man?/No, to hell with him!” (25). Oedipus is too arrogant to admit that even despite Tiresias’ insistence, he may have killed Laius. His hubris leads to his ultimate downfall, and is therefore, also his tragic flaw. His tragic flaw also helps to support that he is a tragic hero.
Reversals in the play make it a tragedy. Therefore, reversals would also make Oedipus the tragic hero of the play. Oedipus, while talking to Jocasta, figures out from her description of the former king that he killed Laius. He says, “What man would be more hateful to God/…And no...