The Cruel Transformation in Oedipus the King

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The Cruel Transformation in Oedipus the King

When we look in the mirror, do we see what other people see or do we see what we delude ourselves into believing is the truth? Self-realization is a complicated concept, one which many Greek dramatists used in order to clarify the themes of their tragedies. In Oedipus the King, Sophocles ties Oedipus’ journey to self-realization with the main theme of the story. As Oedipus slowly begins to realize his true self, he transforms from a proud and heroic king into a tyrant in denial into a scared, condemned man, humbled by his tragic fate.

In the beginning, Oedipus is portrayed as a confident, powerful hero. His bravery and worth are proved when the reader learns how he solved the Sphinx’s riddle. Even though Oedipus was not a native Theban, he chose to answer the Sphinx’s riddle in spite of her threat of death to anyone who answers incorrectly. Only a man like Oedipus, a man possessing tremendous self-confidence, could have such courage. When Oedipus succeeds, freeing the city from the Sphinx's evil reign, he becomes instantly famous and known for his bravery and intelligence. A temple priest reveals the respect the Thebans have for their king when he tells Oedipus, "You freed us from the ...

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