The Fall of Oedipus Rex

Topics: Oedipus, Tragic hero, Sophocles Pages: 3 (963 words) Published: February 9, 2009
The Fall of Oedipus Rex
Seeing a man of great wealth and prestige plummet to societal rock bottom and lose all that he has, in only an hour and a half, was a common sighting for many ancient Greeks due to the heavy influence of Aristotelian tragedy on the theater. The unlucky victim in Oedipus Rex is none other than King Oedipus himself. As the story goes, Oedipus is cursed at birth by the gods to grow up and murder his own father and sleep with his mother. Without a doubt, he ends up committing these horrible atrocities, since what the gods say goes; the real question is, are they at fault for what happened? While the readers certainly may empathize with Oedipus’ drastic downfall, the blame truly lies on his shoulders. Because amidst his valor and likeability, he has several weaknesses; these personal flaws cause him to fulfill and discover the unimaginable truth all on his own. Oedipus has the makings of a classic tragic hero. He is an excellent warrior, an incredible leader, a clever, cunning, handsome young prince who eventually acquires the kingdom he deserves. At one time, he is the envy of every man of Thebes. Yet the qualifications for a tragic hero also include a tragic flaw. King Oedipus has several of these to go around. Because of all his strengths and accomplishments, he feels above the rule of the gods; he addresses the chorus, “You pray. But if you listen to me, you’ll get your wish” (249). He is arrogant and overconfident in his own abilities. This hubris is what motivates him to take over the dogged search for King Laius’ killer. While Oedipus knows nothing about the curse on Thebes, he is very brash to declare harsh punishments for the source of the problem. When the prophet Teiresias tries to warn the king that he is cause, Oedipus brashly responds in anger saying, “Truth is not in you— for your ears, your mind, your eyes are blind” (370). He refuses to accept that his own notions could be wrong, when, in reality, he is the one blind to...

Bibliography: Kamerbeck, J.C. The Plays of Sophocles: Part II, The Oedipus Rex. New York: Leiden, 1976.
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