Sophocles’ Oedipus as Aristotle’s Tragic Hero

Sophocles’ Oedipus as Aristotle’s Tragic Hero

Sophocles’ Oedipus is an impeccable personification of Aristotle’s concept of a tragic hero. Per Aristotle’s idea of a tragic hero, Oedipus had the qualities of a terrible hero while the story showed the rubrics that the terrible hero need to go through. Below is an evaluation of Aristotle’s criteria of a terrible hero with the corresponding explanation of how Oedipus satisfied and satisfied them.

Per Aristotle’s prescription, the awful hero must be a character of worthy stature and achievement. Under this heading, Oedipus occupies the greatest position in society. He was the King of Thebes. He had royal blood since his daddy was certainly a King. When he was deserted by his own father, he was embraced and raised by King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth, who served as his step moms and dads. In practically in his lifetime, Oedipus lived a life of honorable stature.

The nobility of Oedipus is likewise shown in his virtuousness. After learning about the pesky oracle, he attempted to prevent it from taking place by leaving his nation (Corinth), preferring to live an easy life and relinquishing his interest to his father’s crown. He was discreet sufficient to waive his power aspiration for the sake of his parents. This reveals his virtuousness of compassion and benevolence.

Nevertheless, this likewise served as the hamartia or mistake that has terrible effects in the play. Oedipus thought that he can prevent the oracle or his terrible fate that he will murder his own dad and marry his own mother. In leaving Corinth towards Thebes, he thought that he can outwit the will of the gods and get away from it. In which case, there was a presumed arrogance or sense of hubris on the part of Oedipus as his actions were suggested to avoid if not challenge the will of the gods.

In the course of his mission to escape from the oracle, he was unknowingly and actually heading towards his real destiny and en route of fulfilling the oracle. The defect of Oedipus was his conviction that he can elude the oracle, his fate and the will of the gods. While Oedipus was indeed honorable and outstanding, he was however human and hence born to make mistakes. Such flaw and preference of this great hero allows people to identify with him.

As to be discovered later in the story, Oedipus realized that he eliminated his genuine dad, King Laius and wed his genuine mom, Jocasta. The satisfaction of such curse is what plagued the city and Oedipus decided to exile himself. This realization is Oedipus’ anagnorisis, which is the climax of the story. This involves the tragic hero unexpectedly faced by his own guilt, confessing and accepting its effects. (McLeish, 1999, p32)

To supply a comparison to the bold and insubordinate character of Oedipus to the will of the gods, another character in the play was provided in the personality of King Creon who manifested a contrasting mindset towards the gods. At this circumstance, Creon demonstrated how modest, dutiful and submissive he was to the will of the gods.

Rather of performing the instructions of Oedipus, he referred and sought approval of the gods first before performing the exile of the tragic hero. Therefore, part of Oedipus’ anagnorisis is the realization and approval that human beings can not leave his fate and should always follow the will of the gods including one’s punishments.

The exile of Oedipus forms part of his peripeteia or an absolute and complete reverse of his well condition showed externally by physical suffering and internally through disgrace. His downfall and ruin is a series of misfortunes and heartbreaks. Oedipus’ cry of pain was deep. His cry to Zeus revealed disbelief and repulsion at the failure of one whose joy and fantastic guideline in Thebes have actually been bared mortal in every way. And he was a disgrace to his entire kingdom due to the fact that of his incestuous marriage to his own mom. Oedipus weeps,

“Unbar the doors and let all Thebes Behold the slayer of his sire, his mother’s–‘ that shameful word my lips may not repeat. He vows to fly self-banished from the land; He likewise played the main function for the fulfillment of such curse which is what pestered the city …”

Oedipus blinded himself so that he can no longer see the pain and anguish that he had actually caused. He likewise thought that his failure to see the fact which is the inevitability of fate and submission to will of the gods ought to make his undeserving of the gift of sight. Her mom, after knowing of the fact, had actually devoted suicide.

The series of tragedies that Oedipus went through was not entirely required. The penalty he paid for was not commensurate to the type of criminal activity or offense he has actually devoted. Up until now, one can speculate that Oedipus still suffers penalty and bantering. Freud’s “Oedipus Complex” was interpreted based upon the awful fate of Oedipus. This psychosexual personality describes a male kid’s sexual tourist attractions or “desire to sleep” with his mother and a sense of jealousy or desire to kill his daddy. (Brennan, 1989, p248) Therefore, Oedipus name had been completely related to incest.

Lastly, Aristotle’s story of a tragic hero need to give self discovery and finding out for its audience. While it stirs up fervent sensations, the tragedy of the hero does instill despair and dejection among the audience. While awful stories prompt pallid feelings like compassion and distress, the awful fate of Oedipus was suggested for individuals to gain from his errors and therefore permit us to get rid of unhealthy predispositions in life.

The value of the story does not rest purely on its home entertainment worth however on its didactic or instructive functions. When it comes to Oedipus, it was meant to inform people about the irrevocability of fate and the importance of conformity to the will of the gods, which is specifically why plays like those of Sophocles are performed throughout the Greeks’ spiritual events.


Brennan, T. (1989 ). In Between Feminism and Psychoanalysis, Mortimer Street, London, England: Routledge Publications

McLeish, K. (1999 ). Aristotle. Volume 17 of Fantastic thinkers. London, England: Routledge Publications

Sophocles (1991) Oedipus Rex, Mineola, New York: Carrier Dover Publications

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