Oedipus: The Tragic Hero's Journey

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About this sample


Words: 706 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jan 4, 2019

Essay grade:
arrow downward Read Review

Words: 706|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jan 4, 2019

Essay grade:
arrow downward Read Review

Table of contents

  1. Confronting Destiny
  2. The Inevitability of Fate
  3. Catharsis and Redemption
  4. What Makes a Hero?
  5. Conclusion

The timeless story of Oedipus, as depicted in Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex," embodies the essence of a tragic hero—a character whose noble qualities lead to his downfall due to a tragic flaw. Oedipus, the King of Thebes, grapples with a fate that he cannot evade: to kill his father and marry his mother. This essay explores Oedipus's journey as a tragic hero, emphasizing how he confronts his destiny, undergoes a reversal of fortune, and ultimately achieves catharsis.

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Confronting Destiny

Oedipus's journey begins in infancy when the prophecy of his destiny is foretold. He is born an innocent child, unaware of the tragic fate that looms over him. This brings forth the question of whether he deserved such a tragic destiny. The answer is unequivocal—no, he did not. Oedipus was burdened with a preordained fate, a fate that he neither chose nor deserved.

As Oedipus matures and learns of the prophecy, he initially seeks to escape it. He embodies the denial stage common to those facing an inevitable fate. His encounter with the blind seer, Teiresias, ignites his rage and frustration. Oedipus, known for his quick temper, unjustly accuses Teiresias and others, deflecting blame onto them. This moment highlights his tragic flaw: a tendency toward anger when faced with the truth.

However, beneath his initial outbursts, Oedipus's pursuit of the truth remains steadfast. His determination to uncover the reality behind his fate propels him out of the denial phase.

The Inevitability of Fate

Oedipus's story reflects the theme of fate's inevitability. In Greek tragedy, characters often attempt to fight their destinies, but Oedipus stands out because he ultimately embraces his fate. Unlike Odysseus, who faked insanity, or Achilles, who disguised himself to evade their destinies, Oedipus chooses to confront his destiny head-on.

In a moment of profound realization, Oedipus accepts the harsh truth that he is the murderer of his father and the husband of his mother. He acknowledges the inevitability of fate and decides to blind himself, an act symbolic of his newfound self-awareness. The irony is striking—he was blind to the truth when he could see, but with his physical sight gone, he gains clarity. This pivotal moment showcases Oedipus's transition from denial to acceptance.

Catharsis and Redemption

Oedipus's decision to exile himself from Thebes serves as the final act of his catharsis. By leaving his city, he purges it of the plague and evil that had befallen it. In doing so, Oedipus redeems himself in the eyes of the gods and the people of Thebes. His exile represents a form of self-punishment, as he acknowledges his role in the city's suffering.

What Makes a Hero?

In contemporary society, our concept of heroes often revolves around invincible figures like Superman, Spiderman, or Batman, who seem to lack flaws or deep struggles. However, Oedipus challenges this modern notion of heroism. He exemplifies a hero who has suffered, been at his lowest point, and overcome profound obstacles.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s words resonate when considering Oedipus: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Oedipus emerges as the ultimate measure of a man through his willingness to confront his tragic fate, admit his errors, and take righteous action.

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In conclusion, Oedipus's journey in "Oedipus Rex" epitomizes the classical concept of a tragic hero. He confronts an inescapable fate, grapples with his own flaws, and achieves catharsis through self-exile, purging Thebes of its suffering. Oedipus's story serves as a timeless reminder that true heroism lies not in invincibility but in the courage to face one's destiny and the strength to rectify one's mistakes. In Oedipus, we find a hero who navigates the depths of human suffering, ultimately emerging as a symbol of resilience, self-awareness, and moral redemption.


  1. Sophocles. (429 BC). Oedipus Rex. Translated by Robert Fagles. Penguin Classics.
  2. Aristotle. (350 BC). Poetics. Translated by Malcolm Heath. Penguin Classics.
  3. Knox, B. M. W. (1966). The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy. University of California Press.
  4. Segal, C. (2001). Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
  5. King, M. L. Jr. (1963). Strength to Love. Fortress Press.
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Expert Review
While the essay demonstrates that the writer has made a genuine effort to employ critical thought, there still are certain improvements that can be made to the first paragraph as well as to the rest of the essay. Firstly, it is observed that the hook sentence is adequate but not strong enough to attract the reader to the essay. The writer should consider constructing a hook sentence which relates to the themes of the thesis statement to be discussed later. The introduction is effective since the extensiveness adds context to the thesis statement. Moreover, the writer has also presented a concise and informative thesis statement which clearly states the arguments to be discussed later. It also demonstrates a critical evaluation of the text. The evidence presented is extensive and effectively supports the arguments in the thesis statement but the essay may be able to secure an even higher mark by the addition of more examples from the text. The organization of the essay may be improved. This can be done by adding subheadings and then explaining only one point under each paragraph. Word choice is effective and the writer’s expression is very clear. There are several problems in sentence construction in terms of article use and punctuation which need to be corrected to improve readability.

Cite this Essay

Oedipus: The Tragic Hero’s Journey. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“Oedipus: The Tragic Hero’s Journey.” GradesFixer, 03 Jan. 2019,
Oedipus: The Tragic Hero’s Journey. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
Oedipus: The Tragic Hero’s Journey [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Jan 03 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from:
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