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Universal Character Traits In "Oedipus The King"

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September 9, 2007Universal character traits in Oedipus the KingIn Sophocles play, Oedipus the King, there are many themes universal to allhumans. The main character, Oedipus, exhibits traits that humans possess and covet. Wedo not wish to kill our father and marry our mother, but we can relate metaphorically tohis situation. We relate to the broad range of emotions he displays and his reaction invarious situations.Oedipus mistakenly thinks he can change his fate by using his intelligence.Ironically, it is his intelligence that causes him to (literally) blind himself. Oedipus is agood person who ultimately succumbs to his fate through his temperament, intelligence,and pride. We can see from the beginning that Oedipus is good person but extremelyproud and also a little vain:Oh my children, the new blood of ancient Thebes, why are you here?Huddling at my altar, praying before me, your branches wound in wool.Our city reeks with the smoke of burning incense, rings with the cries forthe Healer and wailing for the dead. I thought it wrong, my children, tohear the truth from others, messengers. Here I am myself-you all know me,the world knows my fame: I am Oedipus. (1-9)This is a great introduction to Oedipus the man. His true character is revealedright in the opening scene. He loves his people. I picture him standing central to thecrowd. His people are looking upon him with adoration and hope in their eyes. They arepraying to him like a god. Oedipus likes this adoration. He has let it go to his head thatit was his intelligence that saved the city.It seems Oedipus is being a good leader and a decent man when he decided toinvestigate the murder of Laius. When boasting of what he will do, he displays selfishcharacteristics. He pointedly tells his people that the end result is merely to servehimself, "by avenging Laius, I defend myself" (158-159).When Oedipus confronts Tiresias, many things become apparent.Tiresias, "this day will bring your birth and destruction"Oedipus, "riddles-all you can say are riddles, murk, and darkness"Tiresias, "Ah, but aren't you the best man alive at solving riddles?"Oedipus, "Mock me for that, go one, and you'll reveal my greatness.Tiresias, "Your great good fortune, true, it was your ruin" (499-503).At this point, Oedipus embodies human character traits familiar to us all. He does notget his way, so to speak, then he becomes insulting and starts bickering with the prophet.Oedipus is so proud and elevated that he is unable to use his keen mind solvethe final riddle. He has...

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