The Tragedy of Oedipus
When there is the mention of a hero in literature, the image of a tall, strong man on a pure colored horse, with a sword drawn and the shield held up, crying out to his men the honor and good they will bring in defense of their homeland, may come to mind. This, though, is not the image Sophocles gives to Oedipus, yet Oedipus is considered a true hero. Even if he is not depicted as a great war hero, or one who does some great deed to the benefit of humanity, he is the image of the perfect tragic hero, having normal, imperfect qualities, yet facing the consequences of his actions with dignity.
Oedipus' personality is clearly demonstrated throughout the play. The first quality he shows is his love toward his people: "I grieve for you, my children... And while you suffer, none suffers more than I." Yes, there are moments when Oedipus turns to rage, such as when he is accused by the blind prophet, Teiresias, as the killer of the former king, Laius, or when hears from a drunkard that Polybus is not his real father. But he cares about his people so much, he digs relentlessly to find the truth, even after he realizes the killer is himself.
He also seeks the truth, never hiding anything he knew, nor covering up what he had done in the effort to save his own life. After Jocasta tells him what was said to her about the death of Laius, Oedipus remembers what had happened in his travel to Thebes and immediately tells it to his wife, even though the story puts the blame of Laius' death on him. Then afterwards, a messenger declares Polybus the false father of Oedipus and tells him of his past. Jocasta realizes where this is headed and tries to make Oedipus stop, but Oedipus insists on learning the truth. Despite the repeated warnings from the shepherd that was brought in, Oedipus finally learns the complete truth.
Oedipus' perseverance to find the truth leads to the punishment he himself pronounced. Instead of hiding his sins, like many probably would have done, he faced the consequences of his actions. He accepted them without a single whimper, and for that he is the perfect tragic hero.
Oedipus is the tragic hero and main character of Sophocles' play. He is the cause of many deaths and sufferings, whether directly or indirectly inflicting them. At the start of the play, Oedipus is depicted as a loving king, taking good care of his people and doing whatever he can to ease their pains. After realizing his mistakes and suffering the consequences, he became even more humble and kind, but with weak spirit and mind. He had a short temper and flared out with suspicion and distrust. This occurred first when Teiresias accused him of killing, and later when Oedipus suspected both Creon and the blind prophet of plotting against him. However, throughout the whole play, one aspect of his personality was clear: his endless ambition to find the truth. Even when it finally dawned on him that he truly was the son and killer of Laius and...