A Tragic Hero: Oedipus Rex

Topics: Oedipus, Sophocles, Tragedy Pages: 5 (728 words) Published: April 18, 2010
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When a man loses everything he once owned, and suffers severe anguish and

pain, he is labelled a tragic hero. This underline’s the theme of the 429 BC Ancient

Greek play, Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles the Third. This beloved tragedy tells

the story of a great King, Oedipus, who tries to live up to his title when the city of

Apollo is cursed with a plague and the death of a King. Oedipus must find the

culprit of the massacre, and destroy him. However, when a man and a prophet,

Creon and Teiresias, accuse Oedipus for the problem, an entire cycle of downward

events are put into Oedipus’ lap leading him to his recognition as King of Thebes

and the death of his love Jocasta, which turns out to be King Laius’ Queen. This

proves that it is actually Oedipus’ destiny is to kill his father and marry his mother,

since King Laius and Jocasta are revealed later on as his parents. This is an event

that takes place before Oedipus finds out. This is an epiphany. The king struggles

through a great deal of tragedy due to his severe suffering, his tragic flaws, and his

understanding of how he must face the terrible consequences for his actions.

Oedipus experiences some cases of severe suffering throughout the play.

Choragos describes to the King that “…[Oedipus] suffer it all twice over, remorse is

pain…” (71), meaning that his origin is to murder of his father, and the marriage to

his mother. When Oedipus curses himself and even gouges his own eyes out when

the prophesy of the late King Laius’ son being the murderer, is revealed and states


“The pain of the spikes where [Oedipus] had sight

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The flooding pain

Of memory, never to be gouged out” (71)

Which shows that this man endures a lot of hardship and suffering throughout the

last few stages of his life. Although, there wouldn’t be as much suffering in his world

if there is not as much tragic flaw.

Oedipus gets involved with a few tragic events in his life which one may find

to be a little insane or over the edge. Two separate incidences in this man’s life show

his prophesy to kill his father and marry his mother;

“With [Oedipus] [’s] father’s blood upon me! Never

To have been the man they call his mother’s

Husband!” (73)

Oedipus proclaims! Eventually he does find his warmer side and starts to feel regret

for everything he’s done to his loving elders when he announces that;

“[Oedipus] do not know how [Oedipus] could bear the sight

Of [Oedipus] [‘s] father, when [Oedipus] came to the house of Death,

Of [Oedipus] [‘s] mother! For [Oedipus] have sinned against them both…” (73)

This ultimately shows how he is really starting to understand his problems he is

responsible for. Now he must face those corresponding consequences.

Through all of his tragic flaws and suffering, Oedipus truthfully comes clean

in the end, and faces his awful consequences for what he had done. When his

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alarming prophesy with his wife Joecasta is revealed, he self mutilates himself

and begs to Charagos for him to “Send [Oedipus] from Thebes!” (80) for his shear

punishment for his wrong doing. He understands that he has done wrong and takes

forth that he needs to be rid of:

“But his command is plain: the parricide

Must be destroyed, [Oedipus] [is] that evil man” (80)

He claims showing that he understands that he must be penalized for his actions. All

of this acceptance of his guilt really shows how this is a tragic hero.

A tragic hero, with this evidence, one could not imagine the amount of

suffering, tragic flaw, and consequences this man goes through. All of these factors,

among other things such as an epipphany, can create a tragic hero. This man fits all

of these categories and most likely fits more tragic hero qualities as well. He is the...

References: Oedipus Rex, Fitts, Dudley and Fitzgerald, Robert, Sophocles, The Oedipus Cycle 1977 [United States]
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