Oedipus Rex: Tragic Hero
Oedipus displays the Aristotelian elements of a tragic hero when his hamartia causes him to suffer a peripeteia in which he loses all that he holds dear, his catharsis offers some relief from the pain of his downfall, and ultimately this tragedy creates a legacy that suggests fate is an uncontrollable force that cannot be altered.
Oedipus Rex suffers great tragic flaw throughout the play. From the beginning Oedipus will never be able to escape his fate. A prophecy is told by the oracle that he will kill his father and mary his mother. “”Loxias once told me that I must sleep with my own mother and shed paternal blood with my hands…I have kept Corinth far from me(Sophocles 1011-15). To avoid this fate, he decides to run away from his home town Corinth, hoping to avoid the prophecy. Not long after Oedipus discovers that his dad is not actually his birth father. “”Is nothing to[Oedipus] by birth(1033). Because his father in not actually his father, he will never be able to escape his fate. As the prophecy states, he did unknowingly mary his mother. Trying to find his father’s murder, he does not notice all of the truth right in front of him. The prophet Tiresias even explains to Oedipus early in the play that he “”does not see the scope of evil(435). Oedipus is blind to his on truth. Ultimately Oedipus suffers a tragic flaw by trying to avoid a prophecy and suffers the terrible reversal of fortune.
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Oedipus the powerful king has everything he could ever want, but his life is turned around into a reversal of fortune. Oedipus’s real father Laius is told a prophecy that he will be killed by his own son and his son will sleep with his wife. Laius acknowledges the prophecy and sends his son away. A few years later Oedipus hears the prophecy to. Eventually the prophecy came true not knowing that he killed his birth father. Oedipus promise to find his father’s killer. A messenger tells him that his father has died and they need him as a king. The messenger also told him that he was adapted. At that moment he realized that the prophecy had come true! Oedipus’s life had been perfect he was a powerful king and a hero. After the prophecy his life was changed forever. His mom and wife both committed suicide. He could not bare all the suffering so he gouged his eyes out.He lifted them and struck the sockets of his own eyes(45).
He is cast out of the kingdom and has to live alone. Oedipus’s father screwed up his own son’s life trying to avoid the prophecy which ended up coming true. Oedipus suffers so much from all the mess in his life he can not take it anymore.
Oedipus felt Catharsis before his suffering began. When he heard that his father was murdered he was determined to find the killer. As he set out to find his father, the messenger encountered him. The messenger told him that he was adopted. At this moment he knew that his life was over. Oedipus’s suffering had begun. A little while later Oedipus could bare how much suffering that had come before him. He blind to the truth and he is blind to see what his right in front of him.He gouged out his eyes and said, “”the truth is strong, but not your truth You have not truth. You’re blind. Blind in your eyes. Blind in your ears. Blind in your mind.(Sophocles 40). After Oedipus gouged out his eyes, he felt relief because he did not have to witness all of the suffering in his life. He is guilty and embarrassed, because it was not worth all the work to find out the truth of the death of his wife and all the pain his family had to go through. There is so much suffering in his life that he used his own very hands to gouge out his own eyes. This is an example of catharsis because Oedipus feels relief from all the suffering that he had to face. By ripping his eyes out of his sockets not only is it relief of the suffering, it is also relief from the terrible curse that he was born with.
Sadly Oedipus’s life was a huge mess. He had such an amazing life everything he could have wanted, but from the beginning he was cursed. A powerful king to a tragic hero. His hamartia causes him to suffer a peripeteia and loses everything. His terrible fate cannot be stopped and will never be able to see himself again.