Oedipus Rex Tragic Hero Essay

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Critic Northrop Frye claims that tragic heroes “seem the inevitable conductors of the power about them…Conductors may of course be instruments as well as victims of the divisive lightning.” A perfect example of this assertion would be King Oedipus in the classical tragic play “Oedipus Rex,” written by Sophocles, where Oedipus, himself, becomes the victim of his doomed fate. As someone who was born and raised of royal blood, he becomes too proud and ignorant, believing that he was too powerful for his fate. Using the metaphor “great trees [are] more likely to be struck by lightning than a clump of grass,” Frye compares the heroic but unfortunate Oedipus to the great trees as they both are apt to experience victimization of tragic situations …show more content…

The tragic hero will be the first to get hit and suffer difficulties before anyone else will, making the hero a victim, however, he is also the “conductor” of these lightning strikes. Having so much power causes him to be overwhelmed with responsibilities and have problems come his way. In Oedipus Rex, this type of situation is what creates Oedipus’s dilemma as he became a hero yet brought suffering upon himself and the city of Thebes. Oedipus’s persona can be compared closely to that of a godly figure as all the people of Thebes prayed to him when the plague occurred. They ask him to be again the hero he once was when he saved Thebes from the Sphinx, however, in the end, Oedipus finds that he is the cause of this plague set upon his people. Frye’s quote “tragic heroes are so much the highest points in their human landscape” justifies the Theban’s acts of looking at Oedipus as the solution to end the plague. Oedipus is the definition of a tragic hero; he saved the city of Thebes, became king, sought to save the city again, but discovered that he was the cause of the city’s suffering and also his

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