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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Owen, E. T. “Drama in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus.” In Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, edited by Michael J. O’Brien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.
Segal, Charles. Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.
Sophocles. "Oedipus Rex." An Introduction to Literature, 11th ed. Eds. Sylvan Barnet, et al. New York: Longman, 1997.
Van Nortwick, Thomas. Oedipus: The Meaning of a Masculine Life. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.
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