A Hamartic Tragedy
For every Greek tragedy, there exists three critical elements: hamartia, the tragic flaw of the protagonist, peripeteia, a turning point in the story, and the catharsis, a release of pent-up emotions. Oedipus the King, by Greek tragedian Sophocles is no exception. The majority of the play takes place in Thebes, one of the most dominant Greek city-states in history as Athens’ rival and Sparta’s bane until its destruction by Alexander the Great in 335 BC. The tragedy of Oedipus the King is ingrained in the hamartic flaw of hubris, excessive pride and arrogance. At the end of the play, Oedipus succumbs to his hamartic flaw of hubris, which reflects a fault of both human individuality and society. Oedipus the King criticizes Greek society for believing an individual to be more powerful than the omnipotent gods. As a twisted tragedy, characters such as Oedipus, the reigning king and protagonist of the story, his mother or wife, Jocasta, his brother-in-law and advisor Creon, and the visionary blind prophet Tiresias weave together a story demonstrating the hubris of both individuals and society.
Despite repeated testimony by his advisors, the blind prophet Tiresias, and witnesses to his tragedy, Oedipus strives to reject the truth, blinded by his hubris. It is prophesied the son of the king and queen Laius and Jocasta of Thebes will kill Laius and marry Jocasta. In the beginning, Oedipus not only murders his father, Laius, the reigning king of Thebes, but also solves a riddle from the mythical Sphinx(a beast of a human head and a lion body); Thebes fulfills the prophecy by marrying his mother, Jocasta. This twisted prophecy angers the gods, who curse Thebes with a second plague. Oedipus and his advisors seek the hel...
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... is attributed to Oedipus’ hubris and arrogance toward the plagues of Thebes.
Through both his hamartic flaw of hubris, Oedipus falls from the pedestal he sets himself on above the rest of society and the Greek Gods. His rejection of any and all advice from his advisors, including Creon and the blind prophet Tiresias, exposes his arrogance as he defames any and all who claim against his authority. His defamation, however, is reflected upon his own city as the second plague rains down on Thebes. Furthermore, his actions inspire his own people to defy the gods, and as the audience looks for the comfort of a moral in Oedipus the King, they find a gap in the heartwarming sentiment a moral provides. Overall, Sophocles, presumably, seeks through Oedipus the King to incite a sentiment of obedience and respect to the omnipotent gods that Oedipus himself defies.
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