Oedipus: a Tragic Hero

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Oedipus: a Tragic Hero

By | March 2010
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Oedipus: A Tragic Hero
Aristotle’s tragic hero is one of the most recognizable types of heroes among literature. A tragic hero combines five major points all of which have to do with the hero’s stature in society, his faults, how these faults effect him, the punishment his faults gets him, and how he reacts to this punishment. Aristotle explained that the story of Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles, is a perfect example of a tragic hero. In the play, Oedipus is given a prophecy in which he is told that he will kill his father then marry his mother. As in many Greek plays, Oedipus tries to run from his prophecy and ends up fulfilling exactly what it is foretold. Through the play we see that Oedipus posses many of the characteristics of a tragic hero such as: he is of noble stature, his downfall was his own fault, and that his punishment was not wholly deserved. The first trait that Oedipus possesses that makes him a tragic hero is that he is a man of noble stature. Within the first lines of the play, Oedipus immediately supports this in saying, “Here I am myself-/you know me, the world knows my fame:/I am Oedipus” (7-8). This quote shows that Oedipus is so confident in people knowing who he is that he is willing to put this out there, though he is not being overly confident. This quote is later given reason to when we hear from other characters such as the Priest when he explains things that Oedipus has done such as, “You freed us from the Sphinx, you came to Thebes/and cut us loose from the bloody tribute we had paid/that harsh, brutal singer” (44-46). The Priest depicts when Oedipus defeated the Sphinx, which is the task that gains him the position of king of Thebes. The next characteristic that Oedipus possesses that makes him a tragic hero is that his downfall is of his own doing. The act that ultimately contributes to Oedipus’ downfall is that of when he kills his father and he explains to Jocasta that he killed everyone, “I killed them all-every...