Oedipus Rex: Classic Tragic Hero Essays

922 Words Sep 24th, 1999 4 Pages
In the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Oedipus is a classic tragic hero. According to Aristotle's definition, Oedipus is a tragic hero because he is a king whose life falls apart when he finds out his life story. There are a number of characteristics described by Aristotle that identify a tragic hero. For example, a tragic hero must cause his own downfall; his fate is not deserved, and his punishment exceeds the crime; he also must be of noble stature and have greatness. Oedipus is in love with his idealized self, but neither the grandiose nor the depressive "Narcissus" can really love himself (Miller 67). All of the above characteristics make Oedipus a tragic hero according to Aristotle's ideas about tragedy, and a narcissist according to …show more content…
Oedipus's decision to pursue his questioning is wrong; his grandiosity blinded him and, therefore, his fate is not deserved, but it is far beyond his control. A prophecy is foretold to Laius, the father of Oedipus, that the destiny of Oedipus is a terrible one beyond his control. But when it is prophesized to Oedipus, he sets forth from the city of his foster parents in order to prevent this terrible fate from occurring. Oedipus's destiny is not deserved because he is being punished for his parent's actions. His birth parents seek the advice of the Delphi Oracle, who recommends that they should not have any children. When the boy is born, Laius is overcome with terror when he remembers the oracle. Oedipus is abandoned by his birth parents and is denied their love, which is what results in what Miller calls "Depression as Denial of the Self". Depression results from a denial of one's own emotional reactions, and we cannot really love if we deny our truth, the truth about our parents and caregivers as, well as about ourselves (Miller 43). The birth of Oedipus presets his destiny to result in tragedy even though he is of noble birth. In tragedies, protagonists are usually of the nobility to make their falls seem greater. Oedipus just happens to be born a prince, and he has saved a kingdom that is rightfully his from the

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