Stock Tragic Hero: Oedipus: The Stock Tragic Hero

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The Stock Tragic Hero: Oedipus We’ve discussed in class the qualities of a “tragic hero”. Illustrate that either Oedipus or Creon satisfies the requirements to meet the definition. Oedipus Rex, the ignorant king, a character created for the very purpose of being the epitome of a tragic hero. Bound and kicked out of his homeland as an infant; a force he could not control, driving his fate, taking away his free will. The character of Oedipus created by Sophocles around 430 BCE is the precedent for all tragic heroes created in the time after Oedipus’s sinful conception. Oedipus is the embodiment of a tragic hero and possess all five of the major characteristics of a tragic hero as outlined by Aristotle’s definition. The first and foremost characteristic…show more content…
Instead of blaming the gods or the fates or even the oracle, Oedipus instead does something which defines him as a tragic hero, he takes all of the blame and puts it on himself. Oedipus fully realizes that he murdered his father and slept with his mother after his long conversation with the blind prophet and shepherds (Sophocles, 465-479 1271-1310) However, it is when he sees his wife’s body hanging from the rope that he realizes fully what has happened, and that realization shakes Oedipus so much that he gouges his own eyes out in an attempt to both torture himself and accept his punishment as well as to no longer be able to see his once beautiful children, now turned into monstrosities in his eyes (Sophocles, 1395-1414) Oedipus accepts his fate completely near the end of the play, telling Creon to cast him out of Thebes with the words: “As for me, never condemn the city of my fathers to house my body, not while I’m alive, no, let me live on the mountains, on Cithaeron… let me die there, where they [Oedipus’s parents] tried to kill me” (Sophocles 1587-1594). It is with the accepting of his fate that Oedipus takes full responsibility for his own actions, despite the fact that he was unable to control his actions and he was ignorant of any crimes he was capable of. This is just another thing that makes him the epitome of a tragic hero, and it is the characteristic…show more content…
Oedipus does not simply kill himself to rid Thebes of his curse, he tortures himself and asks to be exiled in punishment for the sins he committed with his own mother. Oedipus, as most readers agree, did not have to suffer such a cruel fate, however, as an Aristotelian tragic hero Oedipus was required to become a martyr, and a martyr he became. In the final pages of Oedipus, the most suffering is highlighted by the line: “Now what a black sea of terror has overwhelmed him… count no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last” (Sophocles, 1682-1685) as read by the chorus at the end of the play. Oedipus lives for the rest of his days miserable and in pain. Oedipus is a true martyr and it is with his suffering that we see what the perfect example of a tragic character

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