Oedipus is a Tragic Hero (Oedipus Rex Analysis)


In Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex, Oedipus is a tragic hero. Every tragic hero has a hamartia, which is a fatal flaw. The hamartia “is that deficiency in their character or awareness which prevents them from ‘reaching the goal’.”(Booker 330). Oedipus was the king and he was highly respected. He thought that nothing could go wrong until it did. He worked hard on finding who murdered the previous king, Laios, but found out that it was he who killed the king. Oedipus’s hamartia blinded him from reality, which led him to treat others around him badly.

Oedipus, king of Thebes, shows his aggression and pridefulness when Teiresias attempts to tell him that he is the killer of the previous king, Laios. Teiresias hesitates to tell Oedipus the truth, but he is forced to. This answer provoked the superciliousness in Oedipus because he instantly becomes outraged and aggressive. As proof, he threatens Teiresias, by saying, “You dare say that! Can you possibly think you have some way of going free, after such insolence?”(Sophocles 19), we see his pridefulness. Oedipus assumes that because he is king, he cannot be the killer.

Blinded by his ego, Oedipus continues to disrespect people in his community, as when he insults Creon because the accusations he threw against him were not true. Oedipus accused Creon of plotting to kill him and trying to steal his throne without having any information to back up his statement. He becomes angry when Creon responds saying,” You can not judge unless you know the facts.”(Sophocles 28) Creon calmly responds to Oedipus’s statement, while Oedipus is overdramatic and disrespectful. 

Oedipus shows his impulsive and angry side once again as he blinds himself after he sees his mother and wife dead. He knew that Iocaste was very upset, but ignores Choragos when he questions his decision of allowing her to leave so angrily. After his conversation, Oedipus barges into his room with a sword, only to be greeted by his dead mother and wife hanging from a noose made from her dress. He sees this horrendous sight and takes the brooches off of her dress, to stab himself in the eye, blinding him. Oedipus says” What has God done to me?”(Sophocles 71), showing his suffering and also blaming Apollo, their main god, for his actions as well as his life. 

Oedipus shows his impulsiveness because of his hamartia. He treats people badly because of his pride. He believed that there was no possible way for him to have done anything wrong. Hubris can make us weak and destroy us. It causes us to treat ourselves and others in an aggressive and harmful way.

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