Oedipus the King: The Tragic Flaws Of Oedipus

analytical Essay
1052 words
1052 words

The ancient Greeks were fond believers of Fate. Fate, defined according to Webster’s, is “the principle or determining cause or will by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as the do.” The Greeks take on Fate was slightly modified. They believed that the gods determined Fate: “…fate, to which in a mysterious way the gods themselves were subject, was an impersonal force decreeing ultimate things only, and unconcerned with day by day affairs.” It was thought that these gods worked in subtle ways; this accounts for character flaws (called harmatia in Greek). Ancient Greeks thought the gods would alter a person’s character, in order for that person to suffer (or gain from) the appropriate outcome. Such was the case in Oedipus’s story. The great Sophoclean play, Oedipus Rex is an amazing play, and one of the first of its time to accurately portray the common tragic hero. Written in the time of ancient Greece, Sophocles perfected the use of character flaws in Greek drama with Oedipus Rex. Using Oedipus as his tragic hero, Sophocles’ plays forced the audience to experience a catharsis of emotions. Sophocles showed the play-watchers Oedipus’s life in the beginning as a “privileged, exalted [person] who [earned his] high repute and status by…intelligence.” Then, the great playwright reached in and violently pulled out the audience’s most sorrowful emotions, pity and fear, in showing Oedipus’s “crushing fall” from greatness. Sophocles intentionally gave certain flaws in character type to Oedipus—he intended a downfall. That was the purpose of all ancient Greek drama: it was meant as “a dramatic reminder of [their] own mortality”. Sophocles used his plays in order to force people to learn at other’s mistake. Oedipus is a perfect example. His tragic flaws, persistence and ignorance caused his inevitable doom Oedipus’s persistence is seen even from the beginning of Oedipus Rex. “The first instance in which [it] is revealed is when he first encounters Teiresias, a seer who refuses to divulge the truth he admits to knowing.” Teiresias begs to Oedipus, “let me go home” . “However, Oedipus doesn't want anything withheld from him, and he gradually becomes more heated in his wheedling…” Teiresias even plainly states Oedipus’s flaw, “Why persist in asking? You will not persuade me.” Despite this comment, eventually “the prophet spits out the truth in disgust, and, cursing, takes his leave.” This is the first case in which Oedipus’s persistence causes him trouble.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how oedipus's persistence is seen even from the beginning of the play, when he first encounters teiresias, a seer who refuses to divulge the truth
  • Explains that deborah d. jones and naomi williams, humanities department handbook of augusta preparatory day school, 2nd ed.
  • Analyzes jen byers' "oedipus and the search for truth," rivendell educational archive, ed. leigh denault.
  • Analyzes how sophocles used character flaws in greek drama with oedipus rex.
  • Analyzes how the use of ignorance in the play is expressed through light and dark imagery. oedipus's downfall was the direct result of his tragic flaws.
  • Cites rivendell educational archive's "an exploration of oedipus," ed. leigh denault.

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