Characteristics of Oedipus in "Oedipus The King"

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About this sample


Words: 703 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 703|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

From the moment Oedipus steps onto the stage in Sophocles' tragedy "Oedipus the King," it becomes evident that he possesses a unique set of character traits that shape his journey throughout the play. Oedipus is a complex character who embodies both admirable and flawed qualities, leading to his ultimate downfall. This essay will delve into the various characteristics of Oedipus, including his intelligence, determination, hubris, and tragic flaw. By analyzing these traits, we can gain a deeper understanding of Oedipus as the protagonist and the tragic hero of the play.

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Thesis statement: Oedipus in "Oedipus the King" displays a combination of admirable qualities such as intelligence and determination, but his excessive pride and tragic flaw ultimately lead to his downfall.

Intelligence: One of the most prominent characteristics of Oedipus is his intelligence, which is demonstrated through his ability to solve the riddle of the Sphinx. Oedipus' quick thinking and analytical mind allow him to save the city of Thebes from the Sphinx's tyranny. This intelligence is further emphasized by the fact that Oedipus was able to unravel the mystery of King Laius' murder, despite the efforts of others. According to Aristotle, a tragic hero must possess noble qualities, and Oedipus' intelligence certainly aligns with this requirement. His intelligence is not only admirable but also essential for the progression of the plot.

However, Oedipus' intelligence also plays a significant role in his downfall. His relentless pursuit of the truth, fueled by his intelligence, blinds him to the consequences of his actions. Oedipus becomes obsessed with finding the murderer of King Laius, unaware that he is, in fact, the culprit. This obsession with the truth ultimately leads to his tragic fate, as he uncovers the horrifying reality of his own identity and commits unspeakable acts.

Determination: Another characteristic of Oedipus is his unwavering determination. Throughout the play, Oedipus is relentless in his pursuit of the truth and refuses to give up, no matter the cost. His determination is evident in his interactions with Tiresias, the blind prophet, whom Oedipus insists on questioning despite Tiresias' reluctance to reveal the truth. Oedipus' determination is admirable, as it showcases his strength and resilience in the face of adversity.

However, Oedipus' determination can also be seen as a flaw. His refusal to accept the limitations of his own knowledge and his insistence on pursuing the truth at all costs contribute to his downfall. Oedipus' determination blinds him to the advice of others, leading him to make hasty decisions and ultimately seal his tragic fate. This flaw in his character is a result of his excessive pride, which we will explore further in the next section.

Hubris: Oedipus' hubris, or excessive pride, is a defining characteristic that significantly influences his actions throughout the play. Oedipus believes himself to be a great and powerful ruler, capable of solving any problem that comes his way. This arrogance is evident in his interactions with those around him, as he dismisses the advice and warnings of others. Oedipus' hubris is particularly evident in his encounter with Tiresias, whom he accuses of being involved in the murder of King Laius. Oedipus' pride blinds him to the truth and prevents him from seeing his own culpability.

Oedipus' hubris is not only a character flaw but also a central theme in the play. Sophocles uses Oedipus' excessive pride to emphasize the concept of fate and the limitations of human knowledge. Oedipus' belief in his own abilities and his unwillingness to accept his fate ultimately lead to his downfall, reinforcing the idea that even the most powerful individuals are subject to the whims of destiny.

In conclusion, Oedipus in "Oedipus the King" possesses a range of character traits that contribute to his complex and tragic journey. His intelligence and determination are admirable qualities that drive the plot forward and showcase his strength as a character. However, his excessive pride and tragic flaw ultimately lead to his downfall, highlighting the destructive nature of hubris. Through the analysis of these character traits, we gain a deeper understanding of Oedipus as the protagonist and tragic hero of the play. Oedipus serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the dangers of excessive pride and the consequences of our actions.


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Sophocles. "Oedipus the King." Translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics, 1984.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Characteristics of Oedipus in “Oedipus the King”. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from
“Characteristics of Oedipus in “Oedipus the King”.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
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Characteristics of Oedipus in “Oedipus the King” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 20]. Available from:
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