Oedipus Rex, Sophocles

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Oedipus the ideal Tragic Hero

Kelli Richards

Liberty University

Abstract

In the play Oedipus Rex, Sophocles portrays Oedipus who is also the main character, as a good- natured, beautiful, noble yet narcissistic person who has a lapse of judgment and fall from power. Throughout the play Oedipus makes a few profound decisions for which he is condemned to plentiful suffering; thus making Oedipus fit the mold of a tragic hero if we agree with Aristotle that Oedipus' misfortune happens strictly because of his tragic flaw. Oedipus’ judgment alongside classic narcissistic behavior caused such events as the killing of King Laius and furthermore calling of Teiresias a liar and wedding his own blood. It was Teiresias idea in the beginning to slowly ease Oedipus into the truth; but Oedipus is too proud or perhaps blind to see any truths, and he refuses to believe that he could have been responsible for the horrific crime he is accused. I guess we could say that ultimately Oedipus learned a life lesson about other significantly important happenings than just one person's fate.

Thesis statement: Could it be that grandiosity creates the ideal tragic hero?

Outline:

I. Abstract

II. What is a tragic hero? How does a character become one?

a. Destined tragedy

b. King viewed as hero

c. Return of nobility and fatal flaw

III. Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero

a. Revealing his father’s name

b. Lapse in judgment

c. Turning point for audience

IV. Founding and prevention of fate

a. Delphi

b. Tragic hero from birth

V. Blinded by narcissism

a. Birth, Mothers name and Fathers name equals fate

VI. Conclusion

Could it be that the creator of the title tragic hero has created the ideal tragic hero himself? Let’s take a look at this question and see how well we can answer it. Oedipus, the main character of the play, is a Theban King portrayed as a hero but destined for tragedy from birth. He is viewed as a hero when he saves his people from an oppressive tax burden or when the audiences realizes how much respect he has from his city because of his ability to rule so proficiently and wisely. Oedipus saves the kingdom that is rightfully his from the Sphinx, this event is the return of his noble stature which was taken away by his birth. With this return of nobility comes an emotional blindfold, this is where Oedipus does not see his pursued questioning as self-inflicting misery.

With a foreshown prophesized tragedy Oedipus is blinded by his pride and continues to think that he can escape the horrendous, yet ironic, fate that the gods have in store for him. Oedipus is so blinded by narcissism that he doesn’t realize his whole world of fame and becoming king only fell into his lap from bloodshed by his own hands. Coinciding in time he unknowingly weds his own mother. Ultimately his character is fatally flawed; he is responsible for his own downfall, misfortune and death.

Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero is someone who causes his own downfall, secondly his fate is not deserved also his punishment must exceed the crime. He must also be of noble stature. All of which describe Oedipus, the king who is in love with his idealized self and true narcissistic nature; his life falls apart when he finds out his life story thus bringing him the denotation tragic hero, at least by Aristotle’s definition. At one point during the play Oedipus forces Teiresias to reveal his destiny...
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