Oedipus the King, the tragic hero is most certainly Oedipus. Oedipus, first of all, is a good man. When he declares, “My spirit grieves for the city” (l 75-76), he shows a deep passion. His sympathy for his people and his desire to be their savior, he earns the respect and love of the people.The respect of the people is crucial in creating the tragic effect that comes with a tragic hero’s downfall, and Sophocles utilizes this by means of giving Oedipus human qualities and a tragic flaw. Passionate, yet stubborn. In this case of his tragic flaw, his lack of knowledge of his true identity is coupled with the peoples awareness of his fate.
Then, when Oedipus finds himself in the dilemma after talking to Tiresias, the people feel his pain and are afraid for his life, knowing that nothing he does can prevent the tragedy from occurring. When Oedipus finally falls from the throne, he doesn’t kill himself, rather he gouges out his eyes. The symbolic blinding of Oedipus suggests that he has experienced renewal and sees the truth. Antigone, the first part of the Oedipus Trilogy, also depicts the theme of a tragic hero.
Through the character of Creon, Sophocles greatly conveys the essential elements of a tragic hero. Creon is, first, king of Thebes, this illustrating his high state, but he more importantly shows characteristics of nobility and virtue. In mentioning the Chorus, he announces that, “These are my principles. Never at my hands will the traitor be honored above the patriot. But whoever proves his loyalty to the state I’ll prize that man in death as well as life” (l -5). Creon puts his country above all else, and for this, he shows characteristics of a tragic hero and nobility. His imperfection is later shown in his pride. After Tiresias warns him of his transgressions, Creon declares, “It’s a dreadful thing to yield…but resist now? Lay my pride bare to the blows of ruin? That’s dreadful too” (l 11-11).
His unwillingness to let go of his pride for the gods shows his main tragic flaw, and with it brings his lonely downfall. Creon’s fall is not a total loss, and he finds a sense of awareness and self-knowledgment. He says, “Ohhh, so senseless, so insane…my crimes, my stubborn…Oh I’ve learned through blood and tears!” (l 1-1404). Creon reaches a point, from which the people also learns. By expressing nobility, downfall through flaw, Creon undoubtedly serves as a perfect example of the tragic hero’s essence.