Oedipus: Tragic Hero Essay

This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Cite this essay cite-image

Sophocies’ Oedipus is believed to be a tragic hero, in the past times of theatre. Oedipus’ odd destiny primes him for a catastrophic collapse that gives each reader and listener a feeling that affects them emotionally. Aristotle believes that Oedipus’ upsetting story meets the necessities as a heartbreaking protagonist through his competence to reserve his quality and insight, in spite of his faults and difficulty. Aristotle’s interpretation of a sad hero will not depict the absence of morals or even the naughtiness of the central character, based on a blunder of ruling. Oedipus was raised with no morals. “We must surely assume that the violent murderous assault inflicted a severe trauma on the defenseless 3-day-old infant, and one can only imagine the screams, the bleeding, and deformity of the ankles, and the sense of disaster and tragedy that would have horrified any observer.” (Steiner. 2018) (The disaster and play so flawlessly fits the Aristotelian features of Oedipus.

Seeing Aristotle’s explanation of a tragic hero, it can be said that Oedipus suits the definition flawlessly with numerous qualities that he shows and the cause of his heartbreaking fall:

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place an order

There remains then the man who occupies the mean between saintliness and depravity. He is not extra-ordinary in virtue and righteousness and yet does not fall into bad fortune because of evil and wickedness but because of some hamartia of a kind found in men ofsimilar families (Adade-Yeboah, Ahenkora, & Amankwa, 2012, pg.2).

Aristotle’s description of a tragic hero truly fits the Oedipus because of the several personalities he exhibits and the source of his fall. It is known that Oedipus is not a saint, but his astonishing skill to outthink the Sphinx and crack the puzzle gives him much reverence. This situation, after thinking of what a tragic hero should be, we contemplate Aristotle’s major traits that make it so. Aristotle was a great scientist in ancient Greek time developed the theory of rhetoric and wrote many works on psychology, political science, and astronomy to name only a few (Eagle, 2008). Aristole was also heavily involved philosophical logic within the stify of right and wrong working under Plato, his mentor, who solely invested himself in drama and philosophy (Eagle, 2008). In the name of a tragic hero, Aristotle recognizes the main character, known in literary terms as the protagonist, as someone of high virtue or a high position who makes a decision that leads to that character’s own downfall (Kennedy & Gioia, 2016, pg. 905). Oedipus fits Aristotle’s explanation as a tragic hero in countless ways. First, Oedipus was of high position as King of Thebes after saving the city from a sphinx, a mythological beast, by answering its puzzle (Edmunds, 2006). Next, Oedipus is depicted as a person with quality. As the Long of Thebus, he is worried for his people in trying times and selflessly seeks truth and resolutions for them, but in due course discovers truths about his own life. Oedipus makes an immense error, flaw of the character – leading to definitive destined downfall.

Oedipus receives sanctification as King, a repayment for saving the individuals of Thebes, which gave him more influence as he developed into holy leader of the town. The Priest talks to Oedipus: “Great Oedipus, O powerful King of Thebes” (Sophocles, 425, pg. 860). Even still, this close to holiness has been treacherously blemished by his relations with Jocasta, his mother. Despite not knowing the true facts about their genetic connection, it still makes it wrong.

The history of Thebes is not known to Oedipus; so, you cannot label him as a killer. Oedipus did murder but not knowingly of who King Laius was. Oedipus’ moral stance was his claim against the assassination. Had roles been reversed and the battle had an opposite outcome, King Laius’ defense would have also been for reasons of honor: for reasons of royalty. Oedipus was royalty and knew it as well did King Lauis. The main idea behind Oedipus’ innocence is that “royalty.” Regardless of either their class standings, a fight occurred. King Laius was the one to begin it. Oedipus knew what his duty was and that was what he wanted to follow. He wanted to save thousands all the individuals and he would it no matter the cost. This is a blameless person and a dependable King. “My words are uttered as a stranger to the act, a stranger to its tale”

At the beginning of the play, Oedipus’ actions make him out to be a very naïve and arrogant individual. This is especially shown in the conversation Oedipus has with Tiresias. Often, he refers to Oedipus as the one who is sightless, fatefully, this is correct. As Tiresias says, it is essentially Oedipus’s actions, not known to Oedipus, that made the gods angry and are producing Thebes’ existing, disturbing plaque. Tiresias blames Oedipus of being ignorant to his own actions. Blind, in this context, is the same as being naïve, proving that Oedipus’s choices in the start of the play are directed by unknown facts. Oedipus’s arrogance is demonstrated in the opening of the play as well. His haughtiness primes him to draw the conclusion that Creon is participating in a plot to try and overthrow Oedipus. In fact, Oedipus even blames Tiresias of involvement in the scheme, which is why he becomes so infuriated by Tiresias’s prediction and will not give it credibility.

By the conclusion of the show, Oedipus’s need for the facts and his need to end the outbreak turn him into a humiliated and tormented man. He cannot deny the reality of what Tiresias says when he learns from Jocasta that King Laius was slain at a intersection heading in the direction of Delphi, nor can he reject the prediction once he learns from the Shepard that he gave away Jocasta’s child. Realizing he is the one who caused the illness and did terrible evils towards his parents and the gods, humble him making him gouge out his own eyes, and also leads him to step down as King and leave the city. The fact that he can humble himself demonstrations that he is a robust and honorable character. Just as the speaker ends the play, Oedipus comes out from the fortress. With his blind eyes streaming with blood, he yells and rages at his destiny. He also yells and curses the darkness that will forever be with him. He says that Apollo fated his calling, but it was he alone who penetrated his eyes. He requests that he be exiled from Thebes. The chorus cowers away from Oedipus as he swears on his life’s blessings. “The question of responsibility and guilt is complicated. Oedipus has killed Laius, but he responds to one crime by committing another. He is involved in an incestuous relationship, although he can claim it was unknowingly. To understand the question of guilt in the tragedy we have to consider the structure of Sophocles' drama and the way he unfolds the tragic emotions.” (Zachrisson. 2019)


  1. Adade-Yeboah, A. & Amankwa, A. S. (2012). The tragic hero of the post – classical Renaissance.
  2. Studies in Literature and Language, 5(3), 119-123. Laval: Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture.
  3. Kennedy, X & Gioia, D. (2016) Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing, Compact, 8th Edition
  4. Sophocles, and E. H. Plumptre. Oedipus Rex: (Oedipus the King). Stilwell, KS: Digireads.com Publishing, 2005
  5. Edmunds, L. (2006) Opedius
  6. Steiner, John. 'The Trauma and Disillusionment of Oedipus.' International Journal of Psychoanalysis 99.3 (2018): 555-68. ProQuest. Web. 6 May 2019.
  7. Zachrisson, Anders. 'Oedipus the King: Quest for Self-Knowledge - Denial of Reality. Sophocles' Vision of Man and Psychoanalytic Concept Formation.' International Journal of Psychoanalysis 94.2 (2013): 313-31. ProQuest. Web. 6 May 2019.
Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this paper

Oedipus: Tragic Hero Essay. (2021, September 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/sophocless-oedipus-a-tragic-hero/
“Oedipus: Tragic Hero Essay.” Edubirdie, 14 Sept. 2021, edubirdie.com/examples/sophocless-oedipus-a-tragic-hero/
Oedipus: Tragic Hero Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/sophocless-oedipus-a-tragic-hero/> [Accessed 24 Jun. 2024].
Oedipus: Tragic Hero Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 14 [cited 2024 Jun 24]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/sophocless-oedipus-a-tragic-hero/

Join our 150k of happy users

  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
Place an order

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via support@edubirdie.com.

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.