Oedipus’ tragic flaw





Oedipus’ tragic flaw

Oedipus is the story of a tragic hero by the same name who tries to run away from his fate but fails miserably. At birth, a prophecy regarding Oedipus was made, that he would kill his parents. His father was King Laius of Thebes and his mother, Queen Jocasta. Upon hearing the fatal prophecy, his mother abandoned him by the roadside where he was picked by a shepherd who took him to Corinth where he was raised by King Polybus and his wife Queen Merope as their son. Oedipus heard rumors that he was not their true son and consulted the oracle which informed him that he was destined to kill his father and afterward marry his mother. Shocked, Oedipus fled to Thebes where, unbeknownst to him, the prophecy would be fulfilled. Oedipus tried to do the right thing throughout the story, but in the end, he realizes that he cannot run from his fate (Knox). Oedipus’ tragic flaw is his desire to escape from his fate which ultimately led him to his downfall.

Oedipus is the protagonist in “Oedipus Rex.” The audience of the play forms a strong connection to him. He is seen as a wise and virtuous leader who leads his people in the right way. In Corinth, Oedipus was very uncomfortable with the thought that he may not be the real son to King Polybus. To allay his fears, he decided to consult the oracle at Delphi. The oracle did not give him a direct answer on his parentage, but instead gave him the more distressing news that his father would die by his hand and that he would go on to marry his mother ((Feng). Oedipus assumed that Polybus and Merope must be his parents. To avert the tragedy, he ran away from Corinth and made his way to Thebes. While on his way there, he met a band of travelers who tried to run him off the road. He killed them in self-defense except for one.

Thebes was taken hostage by a Sphinx and Oedipus is the only one who could solve her riddle. For freeing the kingdom, he was crowned king after the death of King Laius. A plague struck the country, and he sent Creon to consult the oracle at Delphi. The oracle explained that the death of King Laius caused the epidemic and it would be eliminated by getting justice for the murdered king. Oedipus embarked on this task, asking Prophet Tiresias to identify the murderer. Tiresias says that Oedipus is the killer and that he is both brother and father to his children. Stunned, Oedipus accuses Tiresias of colluding with Creon to dethrone him (Knox).

Jocasta describes the death of Laius to Oedipus, who realizes that the events sound familiar. Jocasta asks Oedipus to stop looking into the matter, but Oedipus would not stop. Soon after this, a messenger arrived from Corinth to inform Oedipus of King Polybus’ death. The messenger was the shepherd who received Oedipus from Laius’ herdsman and took him to Polybus. Oedipus summoned the herdsman who corroborates the messenger’s story and confirms that King Laius was indeed Oedipus’ father.

The prophecy about Oedipus had come true; he is the one that killed his father while trying to escape the prophecy. He had married his mother, Jocasta. Jocasta hanged herself on learning the truth and Oedipus stabbed his eyes with pins from her dress. Oedipus had left Corinth since he wanted to avoid killing his parents whom he thought to be Polybus and Merope. However, his efforts to escape his fate were what led him to fulfill the prophecy in the end.

Works Cited

Knox, Bernard. Oedipus at Thebes: Sophocles’ tragic hero and his time. Yale University Press, 1998.

Feng, Chunfen. “Oedipus–A Victim of Human Free Will.” (2017).