The Tragic Life of Oedipus

Since the dawn of time, anguish has been the unfortunate fate of many. In the tragic play, King Oedipus by Sophocles, Thebes is dramatically changing due to the unfound murderer of King Laius. Oedipus finds it to be his duty find the one of wrong doing. Therefore, Oedipus’ hamartia is anguish based on his actions of brutally killing his father and marrying his mother from impulsive actions of human nature, thus revealing Oedipus’ willingness to ignore the truth.

Oedipus’ hamartia is him being in anguish because he ended up killing his father and marrying his mother.

The Chorus expresses their feelings towards Oedipus by stating this, “can you have any justice in his eyes, whom I, as now is seen, have wronged so utterly?” (KO 85). The Chorus talks about how the people can not trust him anymore because of the doing he has done. Another reason why he has regret is because he lost the trust of his people who ever so wished they could look up to him.

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Oedipus feels like he has done nothing right and is the last one who deserves to be happy. In this scene, the Priest continues to share a plea with Oedipus, seeking his help by mentioning, “o greatest of men/ restore our city to life, have a rare for your fame/ your diligence saved us once.” (KO 22). The Priest has hope for Oedipus to restore the city like he had done once before. Although, Oedipus does not feel worthy of doing so anymore after the pain he brought everyone.

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Full of regret, Oedipus refuses the call. The following quotation represents he, Oedipus, not realizing his true feelings, “all the generations of mortal men add up to nothing! Show me the man whose happiness was nothing more than an illusion” (KO 59). Exposed, the Chorus is speaking on the topic that Oedipus was not truly happy but an illusion of feeling of what he wanted to feel. Oedipus does not truly know his feelings and is acting before thinking making impulsive actions without seeing through about the consequences which later would lead him to the agony of living in regret. Not every situation was Oedipus’ fault, but the outcome of every situation was his fault based on the way he reacted in response, instead of realizing the truth, “There are no regrets in life, just lessons”- Jennifer Aniston. Oedipus’ anguish takes over and leads to inhumane self-discipline brought on by the guilt he faces.

The character of Oedipus, which previously stood for his success turned into an image of failure. The chorus interrupts abruptly and cries, “Even Oedipus, greatest of men, was brought by low destiny, for he unknowingly murdered his father and married his mother” (KO 57). Once the Chorus is finished defending Oedipus’ honor, the Messenger comes in to tell the Chorus what happened in the palace. He goes on to say that Jocasta is dead by suicide, and Oedipus came to the door enraged. When Oedipus saw Jocosta’s body, he took her golden brooches and continued to stab his eyes while crying that he couldn’t bear to see the world now that he knows the truth. When Creon hears what is going on and makes the decision to forgive Oedipus, he uses these words, “End this public display of shame and take him inside, I accept your requests if only approved by the Gods / Oedipus has wept shamefully long enough, take Antigone and Ismene away, Oedipus, your power has ended” (KO 74). Creon decides to be the bigger person by forgiving Oedipus for his past accusations. Shocked Oedipus, he tries to deny the forgiveness of his uncle/brother-in-law and instead requests to be banished from Thebes by him. Creon agrees to kick out Oedipus from the city but tells him he will only do so if the Gods approve. After Oedipus made his final decision to be banished from the city, he makes this exclamation, “Creon, please, I must ask you to care for the girls” (KO 78). Oedipus daughters go to him crying.

He tells them that there is no man in society that will want to marry them because of where they come from. Oedipus tells the girls to pray for a better life then he had. Oedipus “karma” comes in the form of a plague that kills people and ceases the production of food in Thebes.

In retrospect, Oedipus ignored the fact there were multiple alternate ways to handle the situation while being blind to the truth. Thus, Oedipus’ character flaw is regret based on the fact, his actions were based off his feelings in the moment. Therefore, not everything is as clear as thought to be in sight.

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The Tragic Life of Oedipus. (2021, Mar 25). Retrieved from

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