Oedipus the King: Pride and Determination

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Pride and Determination in Oedipus Rex A man has many defining characteristics - some positive and some negative. At times, a potentially positive characteristic may cause his eventual downfall. This concept can be directly related to the story Oedipus Rex. Aristotle stated, “the tragic hero falls into bad fortune because of some flaw in his character of the kind found in men of high reputation and good fortune such as Oedipus.” Essentially, he is telling us that Oedipus has a flaw that, under normal circumstances, would be a beneficial characteristic, but in his case, causes his demise. The defining characteristics of pride and determination can be attributed to the downfall of Oedipus. Oedipus’ personality clearly reflects pride and determination throughout the play. When Oedipus heard the oracles’ prediction that he was to kill his father and marry his mother, he was determined to prevent the prophecy. Therefore he left his homeland of Corinth never to return. Then when he solved the Sphinx’s riddle, Oedipus’ pride rose to a new level. He was praised by the people of Thebes, resulting in his marriage to Jocasta, Queen of Thebes. Oedipus also shows his determination when in search of Laius’ murderer. He stated that he would avenge the King’s death as if Laius were his own father. He cursed the murderer, announcing “May he drag out an evil death-in-life in misery.” These characteristics of pride and determination, which Oedipus emanates throughout the play, may appear to be positive attributes to one’s personality. However, Oedipus’ actions, based on these characteristics, are what led him to his eventual downfall and suffrage. If Oedipus had not been so determined to escape and prevent the prophecy, he would not have fulfilled it. Possibly, he was doomed to fulfill the prophecy because he believed he could avoid it. Nevertheless, his fate was sealed by his actions of pride and determination. His pride of conquering the Sphinx led him to the marriage of Jocasta, his mother. When avenging Jocasta’s previous husband, and his true father, King Laius’ death, he was blinded by his pride to the concept that perhaps he was the murderer. Not knowing the truth, he cursed himself to an “evil death-in-life of misery”. Of course at that time, Oedipus failed to realize his connections to Jocasta and Laius, but recognition of the truth would bring him to his eventual suffrage.

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