Oedipus Rex, a tragedy written by Sophocles, is a prime example on how Oedipus fulfills the requirements of a tragic hero. Oedipus’ character embodies all of Aristotle’s characteristics of a tragic hero from Oedipus’ hubris to Oedipus’ self-blinding as he realized his true identity. Oedipus himself realizes that he is the protagonist of the story early on in Oedipus Rex after questioning why everyone fears him and knows nothing good about him (Sophocles). Oedipus then begins his epic downfall.
Odysseus is also considered to be “a tragic figure because he had hamia: ‘his devastating flaw’ which was his insatiable need to win, be it in battle or on a voyage” (Aristotle). Oedipus’ hamia is revealed through Oedipus’ knack for solving problems. Oedipus, with god-like intelligence and skills, believes that he can solve all of Thebes problems and find whoever killed King Laius (Sophocles). Oedipus begins this path by questioning Creon about the death of Oedipus’ father; Oedipus blamed for killing him (Sophocles). After Oedipus interrogates Creon, Oedipus states: “Then I shall at once investigate these matters myself…
I am the only man who knows how to gain knowledge of such things” (Sophocles). Oedipus’ need to solve the mystery makes Oedipus blind himself, for Oedipus should not be the one making assumptions. Oedipus should have first gathered all evidence before starting his investigation to confirm what was fact and what was fiction. Oedipus should have known that he cannot solve these problems on his own without confirmation of other sources because Oedipus thinks that he is the only man capable enough to investigate Laios’ death. Oedipus’ hamia “led him headlong into the catastrophe which was the reason for Sophocles’ telling this story…
When Oedipus realized who he was, he tore out his eyes… Oedipus’ tragedy was brought on by Oedipus himself. Oedipus’ hamia led Oedipus to tear out his own eyes to punish himself for the horrible fate that Oedipus inflicted upon Oedipus” (Aristotle). Odysseus also has hamia from his need to win and Odysseu’s hubris from “being overly-proud of his cleverness” (Aristotle) is what brings about a tragic end for Odysseus. In the Odyssey, after getting home from war, Odysseus finds that Penelope has been courting unwanted suitors while Odysseu’s son, Telemachus, is still a young boy.
Odyssues does not confront Penelope and the suitors and Odyseuss retreats to his room upon seeing that he will not receive hospitality from those who do not know him (Homer). Odyssue’s hamia makes Odyssue convince himself that he can solve this problem by himself without help from others. Odyssues decides to go out with sword in hand as a beggar for food or clothing but Odyseus goes disguised as an old man wearing rags (Homer). Odyssues’ hamia prevents Odyseus from confronting Penelope and Oedipus’ hamia prevents Oedipus from investigating Oedipus’ father’s death.
Odyssues’ hamia led Odyseus to remove himself from the situation and Oedipus’ hamia led Oedipus to blind himself; both men did not want the tragedy of their fate but Odyseus felt justified in his actions while Oedips had no justification for his actions. Odysseus was not aware of how critical his hubris was until he returned home, which is similar to Oedipus because Oedipus does not know that he will kill Jocasta or that he would find out that he killed Laios until later on in the story when Creon tells Oedipus that Laios has three men who can verify Oedipus’ guilt (Sophocles).
Odyssues is the tragic hero in Oedipus Rex because Odyseus caused his own downfall when he decided to confront Penelope and Oedipus is also a tragic hero in Oedipus Rex because Oedipus caused his own downfall when he decided to investigate Laios’ death. Both Odyseuss and Oedipus have hamia which led them both to their downfalls. Odyseuss hamia was from his hubris which made him think that he could solve this problem on his own without help from others, just like Odyseus did not expect Athena or Teiresias to confront Odyseus.
Oedipus’ hamia stems from Oedipus thinking that Oedipus is the only man capable enough to solve Oedipus’ father’s death which led Oedipus to decide to investigate Oedipus’ father’s death without confirmation of other sources, just like Odyseuss thought that he could confront Penelope on his own without help from others. Odysseus and Oedipus both had hamia which led them to their tragic end; Odysseuss hamia was from his hubris while Oedipus’ hamia was from Jocasta and Laios telling Oepdius that no one else can solve this problem. (Oedipus Rex, Odyssues)
One major theme that Oedipus Rex presents is the tragedy of Oedipus as a tragic hero. A tragic hero, as defined by Aristotle, “must be a great person who experiences some serious misfortune as a result of some error or frailty; his downfall must not be brought about by his own guilt” (Aristotle). Oedipus meets all of these criteria, and is seen as a tragic hero throughout Oedipus Rex.
Oedipus makes an error in the beginning of the story by not answering Tiresias’ riddle correctly, which leaves Oedipus in his unfortunate situation at the end. Oedipus’ guilt does not lead to his downfall, because Oedipus is completely unaware of the crimes he has committed. Oedipus’ tragic flaw was his pride. Oedipus had too much pride in himself for believing that nobody could answer Tiresias’ riddle correctly; Oedipus did not even consider anything like this might happen (Oedipus Rex).
Oedipus expressed this tragic flaw while interrogating Teiresias, saying “If I am ever shown to be wrong, I shall owe you a great deal more than your fee for this enlightenment; but if I cast my shadow over you and over Creon without reason, then may the gods cast me out utterly from their sight, and may no place of refuge remain for Oedipus the wanderer” (Oedipus Rex). Oedipus will be a tragic hero until the very end, when Oedipus commits suicide. Oedipus is unaware of what he had done wrong all this time, which makes him unaware that his downfall was caused by an error or a frailty.
Oedipus did not have any idea of being guilty, but Oedipus did know about his pride. Oedipus did not care about anything else besides proving himself to others for his own satisfaction. This character flaw ended up taking part in Oedipus’ downfall by making him prove he can answer Tiresias’ riddle correctly; Oedipus will continue to believe that he was not wrong and did nothing wrong until the end of Oedipus Rex (Oedipus Rex). Oedipus is a tragic hero because Oedipus meets the criteria for a tragic hero, while making mistakes that lead him into his unfortunate situation.