Oedipus the King

Topics: Oedipus, Poetics, Sophocles Pages: 2 (639 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Oedipus' Hamartia

Aristotle once said that a hero's downfall must be a result of some tragic flaw within the character. This flaw was known as hamartia in the Greek world of Aristotle. Since Aristotle greatly admired Oedipus the King, many people believe that Oedipus must have had a prominent and complex hamartia. Discovering Oedipus' hamartia within the play is not an easy task. In fact, it is impossible to point out Oedipus' hamartia since I do not believe that he has one. Everything that he says or does throughout the play is justifiable in one way or another. There is always some logical explanation behind his thoughts and actions and, thus, Oedipus does not have a tragic flaw in his character. There are a number of different points that one can analyze and claim to be Oedipus'hamartia. For instance, some people may examine Oedipus' bad temper and label this as the flaw that leads to his downfall. Oedipus becomes enraged at Teiresias' claim that he is the one who murdered Laius and he begins to believe that this is an attempt by Creon to overthrow him. Despite Oedipus' anger in this situation, his reaction can be justified. First of all, Teiresias' allegation that Oedipus is the killer is absurd to him since he would never murder a king. Also, it seems logical that Creon would be behind such a scheme since he would be next in line to the throne. Therefore, Oedipus' bad temper cannot be considered his hamartia. Another characteristic of Oedipus that some people tend to refer to as his hamartia is his murderous temperament. One can see this side of Oedipus when he recounts the story in which he killed the old man in the wagon as well as a few of the man's servants. However, Oedipus' murderous rage was completely justified in this situation. After all, the old man and his servants were trying to throw Oedipus off the road by brute force. Oedipus, in a sense, was merely defending himself from these men and killed them only out of...
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