Oedipus Rex as a Tragic Hero

Topics: Tragic hero, Truth, Knowledge Pages: 2 (763 words) Published: March 31, 2008
The character of Oedipus can definitely be defined as a tragic hero as he possesses all five components of the accepted definition. Tragic heros must be people of high or noble birth, not pre-eminently virtuous or just, who, through some fatal flaw in their own character or serious error in judgment, precipitate their own downfall and thereby gain knowledge through suffering. The first aspect that defines a tragic hero is that of one being born to those high in society or noble in birth. In ancient greek times, this was to emphasize their importance and exaggerate the “fall” they would eventually experience. Although Oedipus was never aware in his childhood, to whom he was born, the fact that he is of noble birth remains inescapable. Oedipus state himself that “At home I rose to be a person of some pre-eminence.” Here he claims that his adoptive parents were the ones who contributed to his importance in society. The reader knows, however, that he was indeed born with importance. This use of dramatic irony draws attention to his birth, to emphasize his ultimate importance. Although Tragic heroes are usually of noble or high birth, they must be characterized as people to whom the ordinary person can relate. Humans relate to flaws in character, but not to an evil person. That being said; the tragic hero cannot be perfect, as it would be a terrible moral if bad things were to happen to good people. Therefore, Oedipus is an excellent candidate for a tragic hero for this aspect of the definition. At the beginning of the play, we see he is caring for the people of his city when he says, “And while you suffer, none suffers more than I. you have several griefs, each for himself; but my heart bears the weight of my own, and yours, and all of my people’s sorrows. I am not asleep. I weep; and walk through endless ways of thought.” Additionally, the audience respects greatly the king’s request to determine the truths of his birth. The citizens of Thebes are grateful of him...
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