Essay on Oedipus the King: A Tragic Hero

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A tragic hero, as defined by Aristotle, is a man who is great but also terribly flawed, who experiences misfortunes while still remaining admirable to the audience at the end of the play. One of Aristotle’s favorite works, Oedipus the King, a play by Sophocles, is a play that above all others, defines the meaning of what a true tragic hero really is. In the play, Oedipus the King, the story unfolds after Oedipus unintentionally kills his own father and goes on to marry his mother. The events of the play are tragic, but it is the way that Oedipus handles the tragedies that make him a tragic hero.
     From the very beginning of the play, we can already see that Oedipus is a great but flawed man. He proves to us
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However, in spite of all of his positive qualities, he is a man that is prone to arrogance and impulsive behaviors. At the opening of the play, when he addresses the city about the plague, he tells them not to worry for “Here I am myself...the world knows my fame: I am Oedipus” (7-8), implying that he can solve any problem simply because of who he is. Oedipus also shows his arrogance by comparing himself to the gods. After hearing the chorus’ cries to the gods for help he tells the city of Thebes to “Let [him] grant [their] prayers...listen to [him]”(245-246). Oedipus displays his quick temper after the prophet Tireseas declines to tell him who Laius's murderer is; he hastily becomes infuriated at the prophet, telling him he is "scum of the earth . . . [a man who] would enrage a heart of stone" (381).
     The heart of the story unravels when Oedipus apparently begins to suffer a reversal of fortunes. At the beginning of the play, Oedipus is referred to by the priest as the “king of the land, [the city of Thebes’] greatest power” (16). Through all of Thebes he is thought of as a hero, a man who saved the city from the Sphinx and in his bravery has promised to find the killer of King Laius in order to save the city from doom and death. However, at the climax of the story Oedipus learns that he has been “cursed in [his] birth, cursed in marriage / and cursed in

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