Use of Character Flaws and Literary Devices to Teach Morals in Oedipus Rex
The Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex is an excellent example of how an author can use literary techniques and personality traits to teach a certain moral or theme. In Oedipus Rex, Sophocles communicates his themes and morals to the reader through the character flaws of Oedipus, a tragic hero.
The most prominent character flaw that Oedipus possesses is his excessive arrogance. One way this flaw is displayed is Oedipus' repeated use of the pronoun "I". In lines sixty seven through eighty alone, Oedipus uses the word "I" eight times, projecting his haughty personality. "I have found one helpful course, and that I have taken: I have sent Creon…to Delphi…" states Oedipus as he describes what action he has taken to help the people of Thebes recover from there ill state (70-73). This quote is just one of the many that exhibit Oedipus' pride through the over use of the pro-noun "I".
Another example of Oedipus' hubris is the way he speaks in a condescending tone to who ever he may be speaking to. "I have sent Creon…to Delphi, Apollo's place of revelation to learn there, if he can, what act or pledge of mine may save the city" (74-77). In these lines Oedipus suggest that Creon is inferior to him by stating, "if he can"(77). Oedipus often indicates, as he does here, that people other than himself are insolent and incapable of completing tasks correctly. He also indicates in the above quote that he, the all mighty Oedipus, is the only person who could possible save the city of Thebes by saying, "what act or pledge of mine may save the city" (75). This extreme arrogance, demonstrated through patronizing speech, is apparent throughout the entire play. Another example of his excessive pride is when Oedipus asks Teiresias "Has your mystic mummery ever approached the truth?" (376). In this quote Oedipus mocks Teiresias because he is unwilling to except Teiresias' view of the future. Oedipus is so egotistical and proud that he dares to suggest that he is superior to a high priest of Apollo.
Another major character flaw that Oedipus holds is his inability to view a problem on more than one plane of thought. Every time Oedipus is confronted with a situation he makes a rash decision and assumes, because of his hubris, that he has made the best choice. These decisions, however, contribute to the ultimate fall of Oedipus. "I found one helpful course, and that I have taken" states Oedipus, displaying his characteristic of looking at a problem and considering only one solution (70-71).
Oedipus seems solve problems with rash and close minded solutions. This can be seen when Oedipus, no matter what the consequences, insists on knowing his true origin even after Jocasta pleads him to stop questioning the messenger: "For god's love, let us have no more questioning! Is your life nothing to you?" (1005-1006). "However base my birth, I must know about it." replies...