Tragic Hero In Oedipus The King

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In ancient Greek society, the tragedy was a deeply spiritual and emotional art form integral to daily life. Perhaps one of the best examples of Greek tragedy is Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. The work is distinguished by the deep emotion and thought it elicits from the reader. This is in part due to Sophocles’ expert portrayal of Oedipus, who bears all the attributes of an Aristotelian tragic hero. A once powerful king turned blinded pariah, Oedipus is characterized by both his pride and his honorable character. Through such characterization, Sophocles heightens the emotions in the play by demonstrating how these traits contribute to the catastrophic conclusion. Sophocles deliberately depicts Oedipus as a seemingly infallible yet prideful ruler in order to augment the subsequent devastation Oedipus causes, thus realizing the vision of an Aristotelian tragedy.

Aristotle identifies nobleness in character as a characteristic of a tragic hero. Oedipus personifies this criterion; he is revered as one of the most adept rulers in all of Greece. Indeed, he constantly reminds himself that “I am a king . . . Everybody everywhere knows who I am: Oedipus. King” (Sophocles 23). His role as king defines him; this is not a mere title, but rather his entire identity. Oedipus is determined to continue being the perfect leader and he will do anything to end the suffering of his people. Thus, as soon as he learns that the presence of Laius’ killer in Thebes is the cause of the plague, he does
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