The Tragedy Of Oedipus The King

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The Tragedy of Oedipus The King

The Tragedy of Oedipus The King

A tragedy is a drama that presents a hero with a powerful force that he must overcome. The tragic hero must be someone of importance, who in the beginning is happy and utterly miserable by the end. The powerful force, that effects the hero, is often linked to the community he lives in, causing great turmoil for everyone. (Lawall 2006)

The story, of Oedipus, begins outside the royal house of Thebes. The city is being plagued with death and sickness. Oedipus, the king of Thebes, tries to calm his people as he awaits the return of Creon, who has been sent to consult with the oracle at Delphi. Creon returns. He exclaims Apollo's commands "Draw the corruption from the land...root it out" and "Pay back the killer-whoever is responsible" (1292-3). Creon explains to Oedipus the story that was brought back to Thebes, by a shepherd whom witnessed the brutal murder of Laius. Upon hearing this Oedipus swears to hunt down the murderer and avenge the prior kings death so that Thebes may be saved. (Sophocles 2002)

In order to gain insight into this murder, an old soothsayer is called upon. Tiresias, a blind man cursed by the gods to always tell the truth and never be believed, enrages Oedipus when he refuses to discuss the issue; declaring his king should not question such matters. Enraged by his disobedience, Oedipus blames Tiresias for the murder. In return Tiresias charges Oedipus "You are the curse, the corruption of the land...I say you are the murderer you hunt.... I tell you, you and your loved ones live together in infamy, you can not see how far you have gone in guilt" (1299-1300). In a fit of Anger, Oedipus lashes out at Tiresias insulting his blindness and calling him stupid. Sick of the king's attitude he explains the prophecy for all to hear.

"You mock my with your precious eyes, blind to the corruption of your life...Who are your parents? Do you know? You are the scourge of your own flesh and blood, ...the double lash of your mother's and your father's curse will whip you from this land... darkness shrouding your eyes that now you can see the light... That day you learn the truth about your marriage, the wedding-march that sang into your halls, the lusty voyage home to the fatal harbor...This day will bring your birth and your destruction"(Meyers 2002).

At this point it is clear Oedipus is the tragic hero. He is the one faced with the external problem of saving Thebes plus the internal problem that is to come. It is also apparent he has an anger problem, constantly shouting and loosing his temper revealing the first hamartia.

As the story progresses Jocasta, Oedipus' wife, tries to comfort him. She tells Oedipus not to worry the oracle to told Laius that his own son would strike him down; instead three strangers on the road killed ...
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