In the Fourth Century BC, a famous philosopher named Aristotle wrote about the qualities that a tragic hero must possess. Ever since that time, there have been many examples of tragic heroes in literature. None of those characters, however, display the tragic hero traits quite as well as Oedipus, the main character from the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. Oedipus is, without a doubt, the absolute quintessence of a tragic hero. His example shines as clear as a sunny summer day.
Oedipus first shows himself to be a tragic hero through his birth and position in society. He displays both power and stature as King of Thebes. Aristotle’s first criterion states that the tragic hero must occupy a high status in society and embody nobility by birth, two qualities that Oedipus definitely has. Oedipus is the King of Thebes, showing his high societal position, and his birth was noble, as he is the son of a king. "Laius' house and the son of Polybus?" (Sophocles 283). This quote by the chorus was referring to Oedipus as the son of Polybus, King of Corinth. Oedipus is actually the son of Jocasta and Laius, the King and Queen of Thebes, but he grew up with Polybus and Merope, the King and Queen of Corinth. Thus he was born and raised as a prince and was noble by birth.
Another way that Oedipus shows himself to be a tragic hero is through his imperfection. The second of Aristotle's criteria is that the hero is still imperfect, despite his nobility. While Oedipus demonstrates eminence, he also shows himself to be flawed. He is intelligent, yet quick to judge, overly prideful and haughty. Oedipus can see only what he wants to see out of life and hear only what he wants to hear. Because he is quick to judge, he often judges irrationally and incorrectly, which ultimately causes him many problems. Oedipus is unwilling to believe both Creon and Tiresias because of this pride he possesses. They both come to him bearing the truth, telling him that