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Tragic Oedipus Essay

1267 words - 6 pages

Tragic heroes cause intense empathetic reaction, developing an inevitable story of anguish and triumph. In Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Oedipus is such a hero. He has many good, even heroic qualities; however, his deep flaws ultimately cause his undoing and terrible punishment. Although he comes across as a royal being who is basically good, he has flaws that ultimately cannot be controlled and devastate his life. As the readers watch his development and the development of the interwoven themes in the play, we ourselves suffer upon seeing and hearing the ironies of his relationships and motivations. Tragic heroes are relatable and saddening, and the pure idea of their being can draw deep ...view middle of the document...

” Only to Oedipus do the higher class bow, only Oedipus can gain the favor of all. The youths the priest brings with him are fully dutiful to Oedipus, although they may not be close to him. This provides a viewing outline for the audience of the play, to connect to Oedipus without knowing the extent of his personality. Thanks to his royal birth and current position, Oedipus is referred to as the highest of men and the highest of his rank.
Oedipus is good and his punishment is out of proportion to a crime he had no control in committing. Although his character may not be the most likeable, his prophecy drives the evil part of his persona. A good person, his bad decisions are entirely based around avoiding his fate. For example, his good-hearted determination to rid Thebes of the plague leads to his own inadvertent, ironic punishment. “And on the murderer this curse I lay (on him and all the partners in his guilt):-- Wretch, may he pine in utter wretchedness! And for myself, if with my privity he gain admittance to my hearth, I pray the curse I laid on others fall on me.” He is truly, surely determined to help his people, showing his underlying goodness. Oedipus is so determined to save the town that he curses himself; however, this prophecy backfires, but not to any fault of himself. The gods are at the fault of his fate, and without them, Oedipus would be simply a nice man. His uncalled for, terrible punishment for his crime of murdering his father and marrying his mother is gouging out his own eyeballs. Albeit murdering one’s family and engaging in incest is a disastrous crime, the actions were not a natural result of Oedipus’s decisions. His fate is a decision by the gods, and Oedipus could never escape it. At the close of Oedipus Rex, the chorus demonstrates this belief. “He solved the famous riddle with his brilliance, he rose to power, a man beyond all power. Who could behold his greatness without envy? Now what a black sea of terror has overwhelmed him. Now as we keep our watch and wait the final day, count no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last,” they call. At the start, Oedipus is a man to be admired. Oedipus rose to power with “enviable brilliance”, but fell due to his fate. He saved the town once before from the Sphinx, and that one insurmountably good deed cannot be undone. Oedipus is essentially a good person in a horrible situation.
Oedipus has a tragic flaw that leads to his punishment. Determined to avoid what the prophecy spelled out for him, he unknowingly brought...

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