Oedipus by Sophocles: An Example of a Tragic Hero

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Tragic hero could be said to be someone that has had a tragic flaw that leads to the hero's death and also helps the reader to sympathize with the character. Oedipus is a classic example of a tragic hero who had many flaws on the surface, such as the lack of self-knowledge, curiosity and pride, and the wisdom gained at the end. The first quality of Oedipus that justifies him as a tragic hero is in his lack of self-knowledge. Oedipus can be seen has someone who is not genuinely satisfied until he or she solves all of his life’s puzzles and the last riddle of his life. Oedipus physical strength gave him a great opportunity to be the king. This physical strength which he possesses and misuses also marked the beginning of his downfall. In the beginning of the play Oedipus has perfect vision; however, he is blind and ignorant of the truth about himself and his past. As a result; he gains too much pride and confidence and starts to believe he is impalpable. He desperately wants to know, to see, but he can’t. His actions must somehow overcome his blindness. Ironically, into the play a prophet was introduced, a seer, Teresias, who is physically blind, but who is clairvoyant. Teresias says to Oedipus, I tell you, no man that walks upon the earth/ shall be rooted out more horribly than you (S1. .1117). This describes Oedipus as a man ignorant to the true appearance of things, this blind man could see the truth about Oedipus, yet Oedipus in all of his physical strength cannot.

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