Oedipus Tragic Flaw Analysis

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Oedipus' most prominent and significant flaws include his ignorance and his hubris. Throughout the tragedy, Oedipus’s ignorance of his birth and his entire fate drives the story forward and lead to great suffering not only for himself but for everyone around him. Oedipus’ ignorance of his parentage leads him to commit incest and his ignorance of his fate leads him to walk straight to it. While Oedipus’ ignorance is certainly a flaw as it does lead to great pain for everyone involved, Oedipus himself cannot be blamed for it and it does not represent his hamartia, or “fatal flaw”. This is because Oedipus’ ignorance exists solely as a tool for Sophocles to create the cathartic effect. Throughout the tragedy, Sophocles utilizes dramatic irony to…show more content…
This furthers the notion that Oedipus’ hamartia is his hubris as a hero’s hamartia is often something that serves as their greatest strength in moderation but their downfall in excess. Oedipus’ confidence in his reason and his charisma derived from self-confidence attracts the support of the Thebans. However, in excess, Oedipus’ pride leads him uncover the devastating truth of his identity and effects the wrath of the gods. Oedipus’ flawed nature is crucial to the development of catharsis as it his flaws that make Oedipus relatable to the audience so that they may become attached to him. Should Oedipus, be too ‘perfect’ the audience would not be able to find themselves in him and thus would not be able to learn from him, which would contradict the purpose of a tragedy according to Aristotle. In addition, a fatal flaw is essential to the construction of a tragic hero because it provides logicality to his downfall. If the hero were without flaws and was randomly punished, catharsis would not be able to take place because rather than stimulating pity and fear, it would stimulate only “revulsion”…show more content…
As related earlier, catharsis aims to elicit pity and fear in order to purge such emotions from the audience. As such, the tragic hero’s punishment must not be considered entirely deserved otherwise it would be seen as justice and the cathartic effect would not take place. Instead, the punishment must be somewhat excessive so that pities the tragic hero for his misfortune as well as fears for their own lives after seeing the world is not always fair. However, in order to confirm that Oedipus’ punishment exceeds his crime, both must be identified. Oedipus’ crime is quite simply his attempt to escape his own fate. While others may argue that Oedipus’ crimes were murder and incest, this cannot be the case because although these are despicable actions, the blame for these cannot be placed on Oedipus as this was his fate, which he cannot dictate. In addition, if the crime had been incest, Oedipus’ mother and wife Jocasta would have been punished akin to Oedipus. Instead it is Oedipus’ attempt to escape his fate that serve as his crime because if he had not attempted this his fate could have been delayed. This places a degree of responsibility upon Oedipus for bringing his fate to fruition so soon and as such he becomes culpable for the crimes entailed within his fate. In addition, by attempting to defy his fate, Oedipus’ is indirectly
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