The Tragic Hero Essay, Research Paper
The Tragic Hero
“Writing About Drama” in the book, Literature for Composition, describes the world’s greatest plays written before the 20th century as either tragedy or comedy. In a tragic play, the tragic hero usually does some fearful deed which ultimately destroys him. The main character of a tragic play does a good deed which in turn makes him a hero. This hero reaches his prime, and in the end a fearful deed which he had committed earlier, ultimately destroys this man once called hero. Oedipus the king of Thebes is an example of this tragic hero.
Oedipus who is the main character in Oedipus the King was the hero of Thebes. This king “disenthralled us (the city of Thebes) from the Sphinx” (p 6). and in turn he became “Oedipus… most respected king” (p6). Oedipus was respected by the people of Thebes, because he saved the city from the Sphinx, by answering the riddle.
When the city suffers another plague, as a promise to save this city of Thebes again, Oedipus sends Creon, his “royal brother” (pp8) to ask the almighty Apollo how to save the city again. Creon came back from Delphi and told Oedipus what the prince, Apollo said.
“…The Prince Apollo openly enjoins on us
to sever from the body politic
a monstrous growth that battens there:
stop feeding that which festers.” — (p8)
Oedipus asks Creon who it might be that the city must banish, and Creon in turn reports:
“And now clearly is required
the just blood of his (Laius) assassins…
Here, says the god. Seek and you shall find…” — (p9)
The king, wanting his city to return to the rich city he once knew, seeks to find the one who killed Laius. Oedipus discovers that the child of king Laius, and queen Jocasta was done away with. As he seeks for the reason for this child being sent away he stumbles upon an old Oracle of the city of Thebes. This Oracle says:
“…that he’d kill his father” (p67)
As Oedipus continues to uncover the secrets of the city of Thebes, he realized the child was not said to just kill his father but also marry his mother. Soon Oedipus realizes that it is he who might be the child. He knew that fifteen years ago he had been told by the Oracle:
” he was destined to murder his father and marry his mother” — (p3)
Oedipus was very shocked by what happened. He realized through all his glory, he was at the same time playing into what the Oracle has told him he would do. Although he had had many accomplishments and hailed as a hero, he hadn’t seen the truth. A man who had eyes couldn’t see the truth. Tiresias, a blind man knew the truth, saw the truth.
“Oh, if you could only see what lurks in yours you would not chide me so.” (p19)
Jocasta and Lauis, then Oedipus didn’t want their Oracle to come true, therefore they tried everything that they could to go against it, but in the end they did what the Oracle said they would do in the beginning. By running away from what might be, they ran right into it, both without knowing the result.
Jocasta, thought she could change her and Laius’ destiny, by giving the child away to a shepherd, but in the end the child came back. She didn’t know it was he, and she didn’t know that he had killed her husband and his father. She was thankful because Oedipus saved the city from the Sphinx. But by giving this child away she has walked right into what was destined to happen. If she hadn’t sent the child away, maybe her husband would still be alive, and she wouldn’t have married her son.
Oedipus thought that he could change his destiny, but instead he ran right into it. He ran into the king who was his real father, and killed him as the Oracles had said would happen. He ran right into the city of Thebes where his mother lived. He solved the riddle of the Sphinx, and as a result he married his mother. He couldn’t avoid his destiny. As Oedipus finally realizes the truth.
“Lost! Ah lost! At last it’s blazing clear.
Light of my days, go dark.” — (p67)
Oedipus wasn’t physically blind, yet he didn’t see the truth. He thought if a man can’t see anything with eyes then what are they for? With that he blinded his eyes.
“I want to gaze no more.
My birth all sprung revealed from those it never should,
Myself entwined with those I never could.
And I the killer of those I never would.” — (p67)
Oedipus is an example of this tragic hero, because he ultimately commits fearful deeds. He kills his father and marries his mother. Oedipus is damned for his fearful deed and, because of his deed he had almost destroyed the city of Thebes. Right after the death of Laius the kingdom didn’t have a ruler, and the Sphinx took advantage of that. The gods were unhappy as a result of the death of Laius, and the city of Thebes was once again damned. This time it was the plague. The actions of this tragic hero at the end catch up with him and destroys him. He was the king of Thebes, but in the end he was a blind man who hated himself for his actions, Oedipus can be described as the tragic hero that commits some fearful deed which ultimately destroys him.