Oedipus Rex

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Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex

Sophocles in Oedipus Rex introduces the horrors of veracity through the journey the tragic hero Oedipus takes on. This tragedy encompasses all the concepts of Aristotle’s Poetics in regards to a complex plot. According to Aristotle, a tragedy is an event that has to arouse pity and fear to the readers; Oedipus contains all the features of this demand. In terms of Oedipus’ tragedy, he’s seen as the cursed one who consequently has to suffer the tragic repercussions of fate. In Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex, destiny persecutes Oedipus as it demonstrates elements such as his hubris that is exemplified through his behavior, his tragic flaws that is hamartia and the reversal of his tragic discovery that leads him to fulfill the prophecy. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, the author depicts Oedipus’ tragic flaw of hubris through his kingship in Thebes. His pride qualifies as Aristotle’s concept of a tragic character. Aristotle’s tragic character is defined as a character that must occupy a high status and also embody virtues. Aristotle defines Oedipus’ hubris as “his excessive pride that causes the hero to ignore a divine warning break of moral law” (Aristotle 43). Oedipus is confident about solving the murder of king Laius. His character’s self-belief is exemplified through this quote; “by the mouth of messengers, I have myself came hither, Oedipus, known far and wide by name (Sophocles 1)”. This demonstrates how Oedipus is confident in his popularity, because he was the one who solved the Sphinx’s riddle and therefore believes that he deserves immediate respect and recognition. Oedipus illustrates himself as being the only intelligent one in all of Thebes, “with [his] readiness to afford all aid; hard hearted must [he] be (Sophocles 1)”. This passage clearly exhibits his arrogance as it also clarifies his hubris, which, in in end, leads to his downfall. Furthermore, he speaks to people in a pretentious manner; “what you come see is known already – not unknown to me (Sophocles 3)”. This once again acts as an addition to Aristotle’s concept of hubris. Oedipus permits himself to freely behave with a highly conceded attitude that is exemplified through “Come to each singly; by at my once groans for the city, and for myself, and you,” (Sophocles 3). The structure of this quote indicates Oedipus’ high attitude towards the problems that dawn upon Thebes. Instead of showing his audience that his primary concerns are of himself, his focus is the security of the town. In doing so, it displays the tenacity of his pride and thinking he can save the city of Thebes by himself, yet also displaying his dedication, which can be seen as a heroic quality: “I [am] confident, nor prone to fear (Sophocles 4)”. His hubris is once again exemplified when questioning the blind man, Tiresias. This man is known to only speak the truth, and when threatened by Oedipus to express that knowledge about the murder, it leads to a tragedy, rather than enlightenment, in this plot. Tiresias reveals the truth to Oedipus because of his perseverance in uncovering the truth. As he lets his hubris blurry his sight by believing he was lied to by Tiresisas and Creon because he thinks he is too virtuous to have committed such actions. Oedipus rejects all possibilities of such and rather refers to it as a plan to try and throw him off his reign: “For you would rouse a very stone to wrath – will you not speak out ever but stand thus relentless and persistent (Sophocles 13)”. This passage shows that there is a lingering fear within the king’s mind. He uses the excuse that they are trying to overthrow him because he was the one who solved the riddle of the sphinx, which potentially means they were jealous of his position. Oedipus believes that by tricking him, they would reign over Thebes. Oedipus’ negligence in accepting responsibility, along with his surplus of pride leads to his refusal in accepting the truth and instead opts to blame others. Tiresias tells...
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