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Oedipus As A Tragic Hero

Oedipus is an incredible king with a great personality. He is noble both in character and stature. However, although he has compassion and honor, he equally has imperfections, just like any human. He is blinded by his fate and cannot escape his predestination (Lee 94). His hubris and anger cloud his judgment, blocking him from accepting the truth. These tragic character flaws blind and take control of him, making him believe that everyone is after his demise. It is this quality that makes Oedipus a tragic hero. Though has both positive and negative traits, he is neither a rogue nor a saint; he fails as much as an ordinary man in a particular sense, which is the essence of the tragedy.

The Aristotelian theory confers Oedipus the status of a tragic hero due to his imperfections and tragic flaws. Oedipus is a magnificent king who is concerned about the welfare of his people. Besides, he has a respectable personality and moral values. He dedicates his life as a nobleman to fight and avoid evil. The people recognize that he became the king of Thebes both through his physical power and intelligence (COLLITS 15). In fact, the priest refers to him as the noblest and most excellent of men and the savior of the kingdom. As a result, Oedipus distinguished himself as the ultimate source of rescue during a misfortune. Therefore, there is no doubt whatsoever that despite the imperfections of King Oedipus, he is a great man. He attempts every way possible to avoid his unbearable fate, even to the extent of fearing to commit any wrongdoing. Above all, Oedipus remains adamant in his quest for the truth and shows a high degree of respect for the oracles.

However, pride is Oedipus’ tragic flaw. Oedipus is proud and arrogant. He presupposes much about his powers and understanding to control whatever happens to him. Nonetheless, it is impossible to control reality, time, fate, and chances. Besides, he has the wrong judgment and a bad temper. Aristotle stated that the principal error of a tragic character is their poor judgment. This applies to Oedipus, who wrongly judges his situation. It cannot be debated that marrying a consort or murdering a presumed life-threatening stranger are criminal offenses. He, therefore, relies on his ability to commit both offenses without doubting his wits, which, in the end, leads to his downfall.

The defiance he exhibits to his predestination was considered a great crime during the time of Sophocles. In fact, Sophocles suggests, though in a conservative manner, that during his time, people were wrong to be primarily concerned and emphasize powers of understanding human potential and actions that shaped human lives. The modern-day evaluation of Sophocles, the creator of Oedipus, suggests that there is no moral sense in fighting against predestination.

Precautions would have assisted Oedipus in avoiding his ill destiny. For instance, if he had made the decision earlier not to engage in a fight with a man old enough to be his father or enter into a marital relationship with a woman old enough to be his mother, he would have avoided what fate had predetermined of him. Any prudent or human perspective can, therefore, conclude that Oedipus falls for having remained blind to most circumstances (Lee 102). Consequently, he becomes a tragic character because he is morally intermediate, humanly frail, and good but not unflawed by any tragic weakness. As a result, Oedipus identifies with the modern-day men and their inescapable everyday human situation. Oedipus faces a moral paradox of reality and life, which humans experience each day. The puzzle of his life signifies a human situation where events such as tragedies are both inevitable and inescapable.

The life and predicaments that epitomize Oedipus’ character symbolize the inability of human beings to escape fate. It is thus clear that the tragic flaw represents the struggles every human being undergoes in their everyday life. Each makes conscious choices with the hope that these will keep them out of harm’s way. Humans often attempt their best to protect themselves, remain morally upright, and preserve themselves. However, the tragic story of Oedipus reminds each other that they are helpless against their predestination, particularly when they know of it. Nonetheless, Oedipus cannot be blamed for his tragic flaws since any human being would risk all things, including their lives, to find out the truth with the inherent hope that things will turn out in his favor.

Therefore, the tragic character of Oedipus makes him a hero due to the struggles he undergoes and pitiable because of the weaknesses he exhibits towards his predestination. The tragedy arouses fear among the audience because it represents the predicaments humans contend with in their lives (COLLITS 39). The tragedy of Oedipus is that of him realizing his failures, which is the same tragedy of human circumstances. Thus, it shows that however many humans focus on being the best version of themselves, they are weak towards the inevitable and the inescapable.

Works Cited

COLLITS, TERRY. The Riddle of the Text: Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. 2008. 3 2018 <>

Lee, Seonjung. “Rereading Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus as a Myth of Tragic Hero: Using Lacan’s Theory of Subjectivity.” The British and American Language and Literature Association of Korea, vol. 126, 2017, pp. 83–105., doi:10.21297/ballak.2017.126.83.



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