Oedipus Rex, Sophocles’ classic Greek tragedy, associates a tragic flaw(s), or hamartia, with the destruction and downfall of the protagonist, Oedipus. Nietzsche, author of the essay, Sophoclean Tragedy, corroborates the idea of hamartia, or an ‘error’ as he words it, within Oedipus (Nietzsche, 16). Although, he refrains from specifying what this ‘error’ may be, “The most pathetic figure of the Greek theatre, the unfortunate Oedipus, Sophocles takes to be a noble man called to error and alienation in spite of his wisdom” (Nietzsche, 16).
Not all critics believe that there was “error” within the protagonist. Some critics, like Herbert J. Muller in his essay “How Sophocles Viewed and Portrayed the Gods,” believe that Oedipus had no tragic flaw, that he was an innocent victim of the gods:
Nor is there in Oedipus the King the deep sense of outrage that modern readers may feel. None of the characters, including the chorus, complains that Thebans are suffering for no fault of their own, in this plague sent by the gods; they simply assume that Thebes must be properly p...
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...on of the Sphinx and his election as king. This is the high point of Oedipus’ fortunes, to which he will never return. At the outset of Oedipus the King the reader sees a king who comes to the door full of curiosity: “Explain your mood and purport. Is it dread /Of ill that moves you or a boon ye crave?” When the priest has responded that the people are despairing from the effects of the plague, the king shows sympathy for his subjects: “Ye sicken all, well wot I, yet my pain, /How great soever yours, outtops it all.” Shortly thereafter a second main character makes his appearance onstage in the person of Oedipus’ brother-in-law, Creon. Creon actually initiates the falling action of the drama. Creon is returning from the Delphic oracle with the fateful words of the god’s command: “He fell; and now the god 's command is plain: /Punish his takers-off, whoe 'er they be.”
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