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The Athenian tragedy Oedipus Tyrannus by Sophocles is very clear about the fate that awaits the king from the day he enters the world. The choices he made as a way to escape the prophecy about his life, did very little to make him avoid his tragic end. However, in my opinion, Oedipus was as much a hero as he was tragic. A hero is a person who is well-regarded for his great successes and talents, who shows great bravery in the face of adversity or danger. The essay below will explain the heroism in the king’s choices, behavior, and ultimate end.
All through his life, Oedipus is seen as a virtuous man and tries to do the right thing for his family and the people. He is endlessly pursued by the evil that Laius, his father had devised and in so doing, he attracts the very fate he is trying so much to avoid. In the inauguration act of the play, King Oedipus talks to his citizens in a concerned demeanor over the scourge. He is looked upon as a hero by his people since he brought down the curse of the Sphinx before. The only reason his commoners try to get relief from him is because he is a respected and morally upright man who loves his people. Sophocles portrays the king as a humble man who converses with his people on a regular basis. The fact that he had already addressed the plague complaint by sending Creon to the oracle, even before the petitioners arrived shows that he was genuinely concerned.
The second reason that elevates Oedipus to the position of a hero is the fact that he was willing to deal with the murderer who was causing pollution in the city of Thebes. He persisted in his quest to uncover the truth of the matter despite pleas from Jocasta, his wife and mother, to stop. Upon realization and further confirmation that he is the one who murdered Laius, his father, and the half-brother to his daughters, he subjects himself to a far worse fate than death, life as a blind, poor beggar.
At the end of the play, ‘Oedipus Tyrannus,’ the king is begging his people to banish him. The desperation to be banished from Thebes elicits sympathy towards Oedipus. The fact remains that he was pre-destined to kill his dad and sleep with his own mother (Plumptre). He is impartial and just enough to proceed and sentence himself to a good penalty to his mistakes even though he is truly a casualty of circumstance. Seeing himself as the reason for the peoples’ plague, he begs to be exiled forever so his people can be free of the contamination once again. This sentence shows the fairness and the extent of the moral decency of the man. He is distraught at the realization that he, the highly regarded king in the society, performed all the atrocities causing the plague.
In conclusion, Oedipus is depicted as a strong, attentive and powerful leader who was merely a victim of fate. The truth is that he is human and bound to be at fault, whether regarding emotions such as anger and love or concerning his error in judgment. Even though Oedipus is a great man of the people, he has his faults too. For instance, his anger that leads him to kill Laius, the man who refused to give him way at the intersection, unbeknownst to him also his father. He is also very proud as seen in the way he dealt with Tiresias, the blind seer. He is also very distrusting and suspicious of everyone, even of his relatives like Creon. However, I believe that the choices he made after the mistakes are the defining moments of his character. Oedipus is indeed a tragic hero primarily because his story evokes pity and he is a victim of fate.
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