The Pride Of Oedipus The King Essay

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The Pride Of Oedipus The King Essay, Research Paper Oedipus the King is perhaps one of the most famous and influential of Sophocles’ plays. It is a tragic play which focuses on the discovery by Oedipus that he has killed his father and married his mother. On the surface of this drama there is, without a doubt, a tone of disillusionment. Throughout the play we find that Oedipus, the protagonist of this Greek tragedy, is tested by life in a number of ways. To those in Athens who watched the performance of Oedipus the King, Oedipus appeared to be the embodiment of a perfect Athenian. He is self-confident, intelligent, and strong-willed. Ironically, these are the very traits which bring about his tragic discovery. He is portrayed as a character of social conscience whose

tragedy stresses the vulnerability of human beings whose suffering is brought on by a combination of human and divine actions. Oedipus was often looked upon as exceptional rather than typical; a prominent man brought from happiness to misery. His character’s stature is important because it makes his fall all the more horrific. In today’s world, newscasts are filled with daily reports of tragedies, such as a child being struck and killed by a car; an airplane crash; or a devastating fire. A literary tragedy presents courageous individuals who confront powerful forces within or outside themselves with a dignity that reveals the depth of the human spirit in the face of failure, defeat, and even death. It is said that a man should never consider himself fortunate unless he can

look back on his life and remember that life without pain. For Oedipus, looking back is impossible to do without pain. This pain stems from his prideful life. Oedipus is aware that he alone is responsible for his actions. Oedipus freely chooses to pursue and accept his own life’s destruction. Even though fate victimizes Oedipus, he is a tragic figure since his own heroic qualities, his loyalty to Thebes, and his fidelity to the truth ruin him. Oedipus’ pride derives from his own heroic qualities and, ironically, ruins him. A hero prizes above all else his honor and the excellence of his life. When his honor is at stake, all other considerations become irrelevant. A hero values strength and skill, courage and determination, for these attributes enable the person who possesses

them to achieve glory and honor, both in his lifetime and after he dies. Oedipus was certainly a hero who was exceptionally intelligent though one can argue that killing four men single-handedly, on his way to Delphi, more than qualified him as a physical force of reckoning. He obviously knew his heroic status when he greeted the citizens of Thebes before the palace doors saying, “I thought it wrong, my children, to hear the truth / from others, messengers. Here I am myself- / you all know me, the world knows of my fame: / I am Oedipus.” (ll. 6-9) In this such passage, Oedipus proves that he is guilty of hubris, being too sure of himself, too confident in his own powers, and a little under mindful of the gods. If we examine his quest for identity, it becomes quite apparent

that the sequence of events are quite coincidental. First, he summons Tiresias to name the killer, whom Oedipus does not at the time believe to be himself. Second, the tragic hero emerges as anything but a social person. He may begin motivated by a genuine desire to help the people, but what emerges throughout is different. “But not to assist some distant kinsman, no, / for my own sake I’ll rid us of this corruption. / Whoever killed the king may decide to kill me too, / with the same violent hand – by avenging Laius / I defend myself.” (ll. 156 – 160). Here, it becomes plain to see that Oedipus is actually far more concerned with his own sense of self and demands for justice on his terms, than in compromising his desires like any other true leader would. Oedipus, a