Oedipus Rex

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade April 2001

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In Oedipus Rex, Sophocles creates the perfect example of a tragic hero. Oedipus is a noble king who rules over Thebes assuredly. However, when his confidence builds into arrogance, a tragic flaw is created. In the end, Oedipus makes the discovery that causes his demise.

After rescuing the city from the dreaded Sphinx, Oedipus is awarded the kingship of Thebes. His people immediately adore and respect their new, heroic king. For several years, Oedipus serves his people competently, and, despite the manifesting famine spreading throughout the land, his subjects believe Oedipus to be an above-average man. He is called the "noblest of men,"� and is told, "the land (Thebes) calls you its Savior."� Eventually the fame and nobility go to his head, and Oedipus begins to develop and arrogant side to his personality. He starts to believe that he is above average in nobility, and furthermore, without fault. He speaks in ignorance when he curses the murderer of Laius, for he is too pompous to hold himself suspect with the rest of the nation.

When Tiresias reveals the truth, Oedipus is still too full of himself to believe the Prophet. Instead, he begins to ridicule Tiresias and make angry accusations. Arrogance becomes Oedipus's tragic flaw. It blinds him from discovering the truth in time to save himself from downfall.

Oedipus is finally forced to open his eyes and learn the truth of the life that he has been leading. Inadvertently, he has become his father's murderer and his mother's lover. When he grasps this horrible realization, Oedipus is filled with a shameful remorse. "Somewhere out there, then, quickly, by the gods, cover me up, or murder me, or throw me to the ocean where you will never see me more."� Not only does Oedipus lose his crown in his downfall, but he also loses his family, identity, and self-worth.

Had Oedipus not cursed himself in such arrogance, perhaps his life would have been saved. Yet his ruin, caused by a tragic flaw, makes Oedipus the great tragic hero for which he is famed.