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Oedipus the King Character Analysis
Oedipus life was wonderful until the plague hit Thebes and there forth the cookie crumbled. “The point of many of our tragedies seems to be that, since the character cannot escape his or her fate, that each of us, given a set of circumstances, would do the same thing. ”( Jon Blackstock ) I believed should have sympathy because were many pieces in the story that he did not know but his character of anger, overreacting, teasing Tiresias, and fate is what brought Oedipus down to an ugly fate. Oedipus themes and ideas of irony and fate happened over and over numerous times throughout the play.
He believed in fate like the entire Greeks society does but he mostly believes in his own capital ability and action to seek out and determination of his future. Irony can have so many forms it is evident that irony is situational, verbal and dramatic. In the story of Oedipus on relies on really himself because he believes in his own mind first to support his decision of wisdom making were made by his analyzed thoughts. Sophocles was always a very strong believer of destiny, but in the story of Oedipus the King he had different alternatives.
While the onion layer of the harmartia start to unfold Oedipus anger to really come full force and start to call everybody to palace to discover the truth. Sophocles in generally express concern through protagonist in Oedipus the King. Oedipus anger and arrogance leads him to a lot of red flag and more. Which cause dissatisfaction in all men such as Creon in the chorus. In the begging Oedipus tries to pin Creon as his enemy and for trying to devise a plan to overthrow Oedipus thrown.
He tries to demand for his right hand official Creon to be killed as you can see this is where Oedipus judgment is really clouded. You can also really can see the emotional response of a lot of dissatisfaction as the result of anger that shows his inability to be patient, listen, or reason. Tiresias had many roles in the Oedipus play. He was like a father figure , wise old man, and a oracle in the Greek tragedies. Tiresias is the oracle that reveals the truth to Laius and Oedipus. “Tiresias also acts as a foil to Oedipus, revealing characteristics about him that we would not see otherwise by (Uthinker).
In they play Tiresias serve like a father fiquere to Oedipus. But Oedipus being so overreacting shows a lot of hostility towards him and ofcoarse accused him like he did Creon for being a traitor and being influenced by Creon and also teasing and making fun of his blind vision. Oedipus should have never showed animosity towards Tiresias who was the truth oracle and also a person in authoritative position. Tiresias was a truth blind prophet who saw into the future from the divination from the Gods.
Oedipus teasing Tiresias for being blind and when he does this cause a serious downfall and truth comes out spiraling out of control. “And Oedipus’ jealousy towards Tiresias serves as a reminder that Oedipus is not the king that he pretends to be. He is merely a child in an adult’s body. He has never grown up and cannot possibly hope to keep the title of king. (Uthinker)” When Tiresias tries Oedipus patients Oedipus tease him about being blind. Tiresias tells Oedipus that he can see quite clearly but Oedipus is the one who is very much blinded about the truth of his own life situation.
An Tiresias was right when Oedipus finally accepted the truth he ended up stabbing his own eyes out some say that maybe blinding his own self Oedipus thought it will gain him wisdom of foretelling the future sight that Tiresias had. To conclude Oedipus dopes deserve sympathy because were many pieces in the story that he did not know but his character of anger, overreacting, teasing Tiresias, and fate is what brought Oedipus down to an ugly fate. His anger and arrogance was the big red flag that made Oedipus go spiraling downhill. For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness. ”(Ralph Waldo Emerson) I strongly believe in this quote because in a matter of hours Oedipus lost everything he dearly loved. His throne, wife, sight, and all he had left was his children but he had to leave and go off to banishment. If Oedipus what have just listened to the truth his life would have not been so bad he could keep his family and took over another kingdom but as you can see when you are overreacting everything goes for the worse.
Oedipus the King
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The Mystery of Oedipus’ Hamartia
You could wallpaper every home on Earth with the amount of scholarly papers written on Oedipus. Sure, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. You could probably only wallpaper every home in a midsized American city.
So what are all these papers about? Well, there is a whole lot of disagreement about one central aspect of Oedipus’ character. Scholars have been getting riled up and metaphorically punching each other (scholar fight! woo-hoo!) for centuries over one essential question: what is Oedipus’ hamartia (often called a tragic flaw)?
Aristotle tells us in his Poetics that every tragic hero is supposed to have one of these, and that the hamartia is the thing that causes the hero’s downfall. Aristotle also cites Oedipus as the best example ever of a tragic hero. Why then is it so unclear to generation after generation, just what Oedipus’ hamartia is? Let’s take a stroll though some of the major theories and see what there is to see.
Theory # 1: Determination
It’s true that if Oedipus wasn’t so determined to find out the identity of Laius’ real killer he would never have discovered the terrible truth of his life. Can you really call this a flaw, though? Before you go all Judge Judy on the guy, there’s another way to think about this. Oedipus is really exemplifying a prized and admirable human trait: determination. Check out this rock-hard resolve:
OEDIPUS Let the storm burst, my fixed resolve still holds, To learn my lineage, be it ne’er so low. [. ] Nothing can make me other than I am. (1077-1086)
Dang, Oedipus. Way to stick to your guns.
Why is it that we praise Hemingway’s Old Man and Homer’s Odysseus for the same determination for which we condemn Oedipus?
Furthermore, the reason Oedipus is dead set on solving the mystery is to save his people. Creon brings him word from the Oracle of Delphi that he must banish the murderer from the city or the plague that is ravaging Thebes will continue. It seems like Oedipus is doing exactly what a good ruler ought to do. He’s trying to act in the best interest of his people.
Theory #2: Anger
Okay, it’s definitely true that our buddy Oedipus has a temper. Indeed, it was rash anger that led to him unknowingly kill his real father, King Laius, at the crossroads. The killing of his father is an essential link in Oedipus’ downfall, making his violent temper a good candidate for a tragic flaw.
Of course, Oedipus has a pretty good case for self defense. There he was—a lone traveler, minding his own business. Then, out of nowhere, a bunch of guys show up, shove him off the road, and hit him in the head with whip. If we were Oedipus, we’d be angry too.
Killing all but one of them seems like an overreaction to modern audiences, but Oedipus’ actions wouldn’t have seemed as radical to an ancient Greek audience. They lived in violent times. A man had the right to defend himself when attacked, especially when alone on a deserted road.
Within the play we see Oedipus’ anger when he lashes out at both Creon and Teiresias for bringing him bad news:
OEDIPUS O wealth and empiry and skill by skill Outwitted in the battlefield of life, What spite and envy follow in your train! See, for this crown the State conferred on me. A gift, a thing I sought not, for this crown The trusty Creon, my familiar friend, Hath lain in wait to oust me and suborned This mountebank, this juggling charlatan, This tricksy beggar-priest, for gain alone Keen-eyed, but in his proper art stone-blind. Say, sirrah, hast thou ever proved thyself A prophet? [. ] Methinks that thou and thine abettor soon Will rue your plot to drive the scapegoat out. Thank thy grey hairs that thou hast still to learn What chastisement such arrogance deserves. (380-404)
This time he just talks trash, though. We don’t see any ninja-style violence. What’s most important to notice is that these angry tirades don’t do the most important thing for a hamartia to do—they don’t bring on Oedipus’ downfall. He just rants for a while and threatens to do bad things but never does. These tirades don’t cause anything else to happen. In fact they seem like a pretty natural reaction, to a whole lot of very bad news.
Notice too, that anger in no way causes Oedipus to sleep with Jocasta. which is an important part of his downfall.
Theory #3: Hubris
Hubris is translated as excessive pride. This term inevitably comes up almost every time you talk about a piece of ancient Greek literature. There’s no denying that Oedipus is a proud man. Of course, he’s got pretty good reason to be. He’s the one that saved Thebes from the Sphinx. If he hadn’t come along and solved the Sphinx’s riddle, the city would still be in the thrall of the creature. It seems that Oedipus rightly deserves the throne of Thebes.
Many scholars point out that Oedipus’ greatest act of hubris is when he tries to deny his fate. The Oracle of Delphi told him long ago that he was destined to kill his father and sleep with his mother. Oedipus tried to escape his fate by never returning to Corinth, the city where he grew up, and never seeing the people he thought were his parents again. Ironically, it was this action that led him to kill his real father Laius and to marry his mother Jocasta.
It’s undeniable that by trying to avoid his fate Oedipus ended up doing the thing he most feared. This is probably the most popular theory as to Oedipus’ hamartia. We would ask a rather simple question, though: what else was Oedipus supposed to do? Should he have just thrown up his hands and been like, «Oh well, if that’s my fate, we should just get this over with.» This thought is ridiculous and more than a little twisted. It hardly seems like the moral we’re supposed to take from the story. Is it really a flaw to try to avoid committing such horrendous acts?
Theory #4: We’ve got hamartia all wrong
Though hamartia is often defined as a tragic flaw, it actually has a much broader meaning. It’s more accurately translated as an error in judgment or a mistake. You can still call it hamartia even if the hero makes these mistakes in a state of ignorance. The hero doesn’t necessarily have to be intentionally committing the so-called «sin.»
Hmm, does that sound like anybody we know?
The word hamartia comes from the Greek hamartanein, which means «missing the mark.» The hero aims his arrow at the bull’s eye, but ends up hitting something altogether unexpected. Oedipus is the perfect example of this. The target for Oedipus is finding Laius’ murderer in order to save Thebes. He does achieve this, but unfortunately brings disaster on himself in the process. Oedipus aims for the bull’s eye. but ends up hitting his own eyes instead.
Sure, Oedipus has some flaws. Just like the rest of us, he’s far from perfect. There’s a strong argument, though, that ultimately the man is blameless. Some say that all this talk of tragic flaws was later scholars trying to impress a Christian worldview onto a pagan literature. The Greeks just didn’t have quite the same ideas of sin that later societies developed.
The reason that Aristotle admired Oedipus the King so much is that the protagonist’s downfall is caused by his own actions. We are moved to fear and pity at the end of the play not because Oedipus is sinful, but because he’s always tried to do the right thing. The terrible irony is that his desire to do the right thing that brings about his destruction. When Oedipus gouges out his eyes at the end of the play, he symbolically becomes the thing he’s always been: blind to the unknowable complexity of the universe.
If you want to learn more about Oedipus, check out the next play in this uplifting trilogy: Oedipus at Colonus.