English 10 Honors
Oedipus Rex Essay
The fall of the Tragic Hero
“I have come myself to hear you- / I, Oedipus, who bear the famous name” (Prologue, 4) is a line spoken by a character who fits the role of a tragic hero perfectly. In the play Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles, Oedipus is a character that possesses all of the traits that the tragic hero must have. One of the main characteristics of the tragic hero is that they have a consistency of action and dialogue, which can be seen in Oedipus’s dialogue at the beginning of the play. Other than the traits of the tragic hero, Oedipus also demonstrates an abundance of pride and blindness throughout the majority of the play. This pride or blindness, also known as hubris, is a trait that Oedipus clearly possesses. This hubris alters the way that Oedipus act, but in the long run actually alters the course of the play itself. The pride and blind certainty demonstrated by Oedipus in the play causes him to disregard what is going in around him, which ultimately lead to his downfall.
Oedipus’s overwhelming signs of importance at the beginning of the play are due to his status and power of being the king of Thebes. Oedipus has earned this power due to his cleverness and his ability to solve the sphinx's riddle, which allows him to have the high status that tragic character must have. The citizens of Thebes are looking up to Oedipus because Thebes has been struck with a plague and they believe that Oedipus will be able to cure it. The Priest tells Oedipus “O mighty King, we turn to you; find us our safety, find us a remedy” (Prologue, 5). Oedipus’s calling is chance for him to save the city for a second time, which is an opportunity that he cannot pass up. His pride of saving the city once motivates him to do it again, no matter what the consequences might be. In order to do such a thing he sends “Creon, Son of Menoikeus, brother of the Queen, to Delphi” (Prologue, 6). The people of Thebes learn that the only way to get rid of the plague is “To expel from the land of Thebes an old defilement we are sheltering” (Prologue, 7). Once Oedipus hears of this message he sets out to find the defilement and save his city without any hesitation due to his hubris.
Other than asking a few questions about King Laius’s murder, Oedipus’s blindness prevents him from seeing the consequences of his future actions. The pride within Oedipus to cure the city of the plague takes over his actions. The combination of Oedipus’s blindness and pride leads him to commit his error which is also known a hamartia. Oedipus makes bold and ironic statements to the citizens of Thebes that ultimately lead to his downfall. Because of his hubris, Oedipus condemns whoever is responsible for the murder of king Laios. He makes harsh punishments for the defilement such as “I decree that he be driven from every house, being as he is, corruption itself to us” (Scene1, 13). Little does Oedipus know he is actually exiling himself from his...