Oedipus' Character Analysis Of Oedipus The King
Oedipus the King is a piece that demonstrates to us what it means to be human. A tragic hero who is far beyond perfect. To be human is to realize that one’s strengths may also be their weakness. Sophocles illustrates King Oedipus as a character who is both heroic and noble yet flawed due to his excessive hubris. He does this through the use of dramatic irony, but also through the theme of fate and motifs of eyesight.
From the very beginning Sophocles implements dramatic irony. It is in this literary device that sets the groundwork for Oedipus’ demise. We are aware that he is the murderer yet not one of the onstage characters know. With great sincerity and great irony he proclaims, “Upon the murderer I invoke this curse — whether he is one man and all unknown, or one of many — may he wear out his life in misery to miserable doom” . He also states that he is “one that is a stranger to the story”. Clearly, he is illustrated as a noble, sympathetic, and intelligent, yet his hubris is also on display. He is a benevolent king unaware of his reality. Someone who murders his father as well as marrying his mother. Through this plot Freud coins the “Oedipus Complex”. A theory that suggest, “competition with the parent of the same gender for the attention and affection of the parent of the opposite gender”. However, if we are to relate this as a direct description of Oedipus as a character – I don’t think it is correct. Rather than a desire for his mother, he has a desire to prove he can do everything on his own. He is pride. His pride is to show that he can find the murderer and restore fertility to the land. The concept of land connected to king and our hero’s increasing paranoia and anger in dealing with Creon is where we see his flaw fully displayed.
Throughout the play we are told of Oedipus’ reality and what will happen. Despite running and going about things in a positive way, what has been decided is what has been decided and it can’t be changed. If he had realized it sooner and been kinder to those aiding him, would his ending have been different? For this play the irony is in the fact that fate had already gotten its clutch on the hero who did not believe in it.
Sophocles also uses the motif of eyesight to further show the humanness of Oedipus. There is obvious irony in this concept. He demonstrates clear vision which is a metaphor for knowledge and wisdom, yet he is blind to what is the truth. Oedipus in his pride finds anger and blame, demonstrated in his interaction with Teiresias. However, Teiresias states the obvious, “You blame my temper, but do not see the one which lives within you. Instead, you are finding fault with me. ” The entire dialogue exchanged between Oedipus and Teiresias is a painfully annoying demonstration of our hero’s metaphorical blindness. His flaws as a character shine brightly in these scenes as Oedipus’ anger and pride clouds his “vision” – the truth. That he himself is the murderer. The seer is blind, yet sees much clearer than our hero. Eventually, our hero understands the truth and commits an incredibly painful irony. He becomes a literal version of how he’s been portrayed the entire series: blind.
Oedipus’ tragic flaw is being born with such an unfortunate draw of cards and having his own pride and stubbornness cloud his vision. His only flaw really is being human. Sophocles uses dramatic irony, fate, and sigh to illustrate Oedipus as a noble king. A man of good character whose hubris has blinded him. It is my hope that the audience of my life does not frustratingly watch me move around like a blind fool.
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