An Essay on Oedipus Rex

Essay by Justin WardHigh School, 10th gradeA+, August 1996

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The Greek drama Oedipus Rex is clearly a tragedy. It definitely meets the five

main criteria for a tragedy: a tragic hero of noble birth, a tragic flaw, a fall from grace, a

moment of remorse, and catharsis.

Oedipus Rex clearly meets the first of these five criteria. Oedipus is the son of

Laius, who was king of Thebes. Even at the beginning of the story, when we are told that

Oedipus is the son of Polybus, he is still of noble birth; Polybus is king of Corinth.

The tragic flaw, or mistake that a character makes, in Oedipus Rex does not

actually take place during the story. We only watch as Oedipus and the rest of the

characters discover this mistake that was actually made long, long ago and cannot be

reversed. This tragic flaw is of course Oedipus killing his father Lauis, and then marrying

Jocasta, his mother.

We realize that these actions have taken place much earlier in the

story than the characters do. However, both of these events actually took many years ago.

The fall from grace in Oedipus Rex is when Oedipus, Jocasta, and all the other

characters in the story realize that Oedipus actually did murder Laius and that Jocasta is

indeed his mother as well as his wife. This occurs rather quickly, very close to the end of

the play.

The audience sees this coming long before it actually does, however. In one of the

passages of Oedipus speaking with Jocasta, just about everything is spelled out for us.

Jocasta speaks of Laius leaving the castle with just a few servants and his being killed

where three roads meet. Oedipus claims that he killed somebody where three roads met,

who had a few servants with him. As though this isn't enough, Jocasta...