Oedipus the King a Tragic Hero

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Marietta Shaw
English 1302-6504
21 November 2011
A Tragic Hero Indeed!
In Sophocles tragedy Oedipus the King, King Oedipus swears to solve the murder of former King Laios in order to free the city from the plague. The plague taunts the city destroying crops and livestock and making the women unable to bear children. A seer, Teirsias tells Oedipus that he himself is Thebes’s pollution for killing his father and marrying his mother. Oedipus ignores his words and is blind to the truth until he discovers that it is he who corrupts the city. In order to illustrate Oedipus as the perfect Aristotelian tragic hero, the reader must examine his noble stature that gives him authority, his hamartia resulting in his downfall, and his misfortune that not wholly deserved.

Because Oedipus is the king he has the authority to demand information about Laios’s death and become a classic tragic hero. Aristotle’s states that a tragic hero must be of either a high rank or noble birth (“Tragedy and Comedy” 1211), and Oedipus’s position as king gives him power to find and question those who know and punishthose who withholds information about the murder. When Oedipus is at the front of the palace before the people the Priest refers to him as “great Oedipus, O powerful King of Thebes” (Prologue 16) when asking for help from the plague. Oedipus is highly respected as king by the people of Thebes. He has done well by the people and the city and they are proud to have such a powerful king. Aristotle also believes that a tragic hero noble stature is not illustrated by his kingship alone but by his “nobility of mind” (“Tragedy and Comedy” 1211) and Oedipus proves his knowledge to the people which made him king in the first place. The Priest also refers to Oedipus as “a king of wisdom tested in the past can act in time of troubles, and act well” (Prologue 46-47). When the city was at their most trying times Oedipus frees them and lifts the curse of the Sphinx. It was...
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