The Tragic Flaw Of Oedipus The King Essay

The Tragic Flaw Of Oedipus The King Essay

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The Hamartia of King Oedipus

“Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live,” (Robert Kennedy). A tragic flaw is a trait in the hero character within a literary piece which leads to the individual’s downfall. The play Oedipus The King, a play by Sophocles, follows a man as he tries to discover the murderer of the former King in order to end a plague. The main character, named Oedipus, has tragic flaws which leads to his deposition in the end. Oedipus obtains a lack of self knowledge, resulting in his constant denial of his true identity and causes his search to be prolonged. The protagonist, Oedipus, simultaneously possesses the contrary flaw of being a truth seeker, which ultimately makes the investigation more challenging and promotes his paranoia. Furthermore, the downfall of Oedipus is caused by his short-temper, making him prejudge acquaintances and commit crime. Oedipus’ downfall as King and as a human being in general was stemmed and motivated from his tragic flaws and inadvertent wrongdoings.

Oedipus lacked knowledge of his true identity and refused to accept disclosures as people gave them to him. The truth has been hidden from Oedipus for his entire life and so when individuals try to tell him, he is quick to shut them down or suggest that they are suspects of crime. For example, when Oedipus is speaking to the citizens of Thebes and tells the murderer of Laius or anyone with information to come forward. Tiresias intelligently and discreetly finds a way to inform Oedipus that he is in fact the person he is searching for, but Oedipus foolishly chooses to reject his insight. Oedipus then results to accusing Creon and Tiresias of trying to overthrow him, when in actuality they ...


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... Tiresias, he then accuses Creon of plotting against him, without any evidence. It is evident that Oedipus’ angry and reckless tendency lead him towards his undoing.

The downfall of Oedipus was prompted by the character’s own tragic flaws and by his unintentional iniquity. The protagonist lacks the essential knowledge that he requires and as a result he denies his true identity and his investigation is lengthened. Oedipus is constantly in the pursuit of the truth, yet as he makes new realizations that cause his own destruction. Additionally, Oedipus’ anger issues and impulsive inclination also factored into the tragic downfall of the former hero. “It’s a tragedy, it’s a classic tragedy. In a way, he’s got a character flaw that is going to cause his destruction, and it 's not going to come from the outside; it’s going to come from the inside of him,” (Bennett Miller).

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