Is Oedipus The True Tragic Hero?
Aristotle described tragedy in his poetics as "a man not preeminently virtuous and just, whose misfortune, however, is brought upon him not by vice or depravity, but by some error in judgment... the change in the hero's fortune must not be from misery to happiness, but on the contrary, from happiness to misery". He went on further to describe Sophocles's Oedipus Rex as the best tragedy ever written, as it illustrates perfectly the goodness and superiority of the character, his tragic flaw that will ultimately lead to the downfall of Oedipus, the character's tragic realization in which Oedipus is able to realize that he has helped to bring about his own destruction and the absence of free will in his life.
As a ruler, Oedipus is considered by his people very just, compassionate, and sympathetic. When the priests of Thebes come to him pleading for help on behalf of the people of Thebes who were suffering from death and famine, Oedipus immediately agrees and promises them that he would do his best in solving the problems, saying "Whether you come in dread or crave some blessing: tell me, and never doubt that I will help you in every way I can; I should be heartless" (pg 1384, lines12-14).
After hearing about the prophesy from the oracle, he refuses to accept his fate of murdering the king and marrying the queen of Corinth, who he believed to be his parents, and immediately leaves the city.
Although Oedipus truly is a good person, he is unable to overcome his fatal flaw which is that of stubbornness, impulsiveness, and most of all grandiosity. Though he has never harmed a man in his past, he is unable to rise above his flaws on his journey to Thebes...