, Research Paper
A Man of Many Traits
All characters in pieces of English literature portray their own character traits which makes them and the story what they are. In Sophocle s renowned play Oedipus Rex there is no exception when it comes to the main character Oedipus. From the beginning until the end Oedipus piety, confidence, and reason are portrayed allowing everyone to see his positive side. These traits however are taken over respectively by impiety, passion and a lack of confidence. These negative traits tend to show when his pride is being threatened.
Oedipus places himself on a constant level with the gods yet for the most part he holds utmost respect for them. He not only believes this himself but also is placed close to the gods by other people such as priests and the people of Thebes. As to the man surest in mortal ways and wisest in the way of gods. (37-38) Although he holds himself on a constant level with the Gods he does so out of respect for himself and the Gods. Only when his pride is threaten does he acknowledge himself as being better then Gods. A gods touch, it seems enabled you to help us. (42) By this no one means any disrespect to the Gods yet they do see Oedipus as being close to them. Oedipus is seen to have saved their town from the Sphinx, became king and now is determined to avenge Laois death. This puts him at a level of high respect among his people.
Oedipus is not only a man of confidence, he is a man of reason for the most part. It is honorable to think and act with reason rather then passion and Oedipus does so to a certain extent. When Oedipus hears of the horrendous curse laid on his city, he swears to solve it. The first time that he is confronted about the murder he reacts with strict reason and avoids arguing at all costs. I was not sleeping, you are not waking me. (67) Oedipus is putting clear thought into the case and is piecing the parts together rationally. Then once more I must bring what is dark to light. (135) The main concer of Oedipus at this time is that his city be healed. His would like to solve the murder of Laios and have the city back to normal with him being in power. Oedipus continues to act reasonably until his pride is threatened and the guilt is turned in his favor.
Oedipus holds a high amount of confidence in himself. This however is not a bad thing yet it is a good trait for Oedipus. He realizes his place in society and is not ashamed of it. I Oedipus who bear the famous name. (9) When Kreon and Oedipus begin to argue, Oedipus reveals his confidence by stating that already knows what Kreon has planned and that it is against him. (509-510) Although this could be seen as a state of passion, it clearly states that Oedipus is so confident in himself that he can hold himself above Kreon regardless of the negative outcome.
Oedipus, the simple man, who knows nothing- I thought
it out myself, no birds helped me! And this is the man
you think you can destroy / (385-387)
Oedipus clearly takes his confidence to a very high level when he states that he is such a good man that not even the birds had to help him solve the Sphinx. He sees himself as a man who cannot be defeated. This is the trait that makes him such a strong King yet such a weak one at the same time.
When Oedipus pride is threatened, regardless of whom does it, it causes Oedipus positive traits to be devoured by negative ones. His piety is taken over by impiety, his reason by passion, and his confidence turns around to show a lack of confidence in himself. At the point when Oedipus realizes that he may be in the wrong his pride is hurt. This causes him to turn to be the negative Oedipus. He demonstrates moments of impiety, passion, and lack of confidence in himself.
Oedipus pride is very high. He holds a very large amount of pride in himself and for these reasons he places himself above the gods. His impious nature is revealed from the start when he states that although he is not a God he can fulfill their duties. Is this your prayer? It may be answered. (205) When it comes to the riddle of the Sphinx, Oedipus again places himself on a level higher then the gods. Kreon threatens Oedipus pride by stating that he is no good and that he will soon realize this. Oedipus then simply states that he has the ability to solve the sphinx without the God s help. I thought it out myself, no birds helped me! (385-387) Not only did he disrespect the gods, he challenged Kreon to see who is a more capable man. Although Oedipus is a very good leader, his impious nature leads him to be a lesser man. After Oedipus learns the truth he then blames the gods for following through with his fate. He almost begs an answer from them by asking then what they have done to him. (1282) The Gods see him as disrespectful. His pride and overconfidence cause him to act impious and disrespectful.
Oedipus carries so much pride in himself that when it becomes hurt or threatened he tends to think and act out of passion rather then reason. No, I will not go on. Rage as you please. (330) Oedipus begins going against Teiresias and starts an argument, it is easy to tell who is acting out of reason or passion and it is definitely clear that Oedipus is acting out of passion. Not only is Teiresias next to the Gods, he is a man of reason and Oedipus in his right state would know not to be so rash towards him. Through Kreon expressing his views towards Oedipus and the murder, Oedipus pride is not only hurt but also threatened. He begins acting out of passion. Although Oedipus is acting out of passion, Kreon remains reasonable, which aggravates Oedipus even more. When Oedipus is told to Reason it out (553) it sets him off and Kreon is left the only reasonable one.
You do wrong
When you take good men for bad, bad men for good.
A true friend thrown aside-why, life itself is not more
When Oedipus pride is finally demolished by the truth of what happened, he acts out of passion hunting down Iokasta to be murdered. Although she was not to blame, Oedipus was not thinking reasonably and was acting out of passion rather then reason. From one to another of us he went, begging a sword, hunting the wife who was not his wife (1222, 1223) There is no doubt that Oedipus reason is controlled by the state of his pride. When his pride is intact, Oedipus remains reasonable, yet when it is threatened he becomes a man who acts solely out of passion. His reason disappears and his good traits turn to negative ones.
Oedipus confidence is a trait that definitely makes the man. He figures that he has overcome an number of obstacles and has every right to be confident in himself. However when his pride is being threatened he begins to lose his confidence in himself. He realizes that he is not a child of luck. (37) At the time that Oedipus realizes the truth he also realizes that the pride he held in himself was false. This set him off and the lack of confidence in himself was apparent.
Oedipus, damned in his birth, in his marriage
damned,Damned in the blood he shed with his
own hand. (1139-1140)
He went from believing that he was the all mighty King Oedipus to realizing that he is nothing more than damned. He has no self-confidence in himself and he sees himself as nothing more then a waste of skin.
Why did you shelter me? When I was cast upon
you, why did I not die? Then I should never have
Shown the world my execrable birth.
Oedipus realized all the wrong he had committed when he was informed of the truth. He lost all confidence in himself and realized how rash he had been. Oedipus was definitely ashamed in himself.
From the beginning of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus piety, reason and confidence are portrayed allowing everyone to see his positive side. However as Oedipus pride is hurt or threatened his negative traits respectively take over. His piety becomes impiety, his reason turns to passion and his confidence leads to a lack of confidence in himself. Oedipus begins as a well-respected man yet his pride seems to cause all of his negative traits. Pride prevented him to believe what the truth may be which led him to act impious as well as out of passion. He lost his sense of self worth and became the thing he hated the most. Overall Oedipus had the potential to be great leader and if it wasn t for him needing the sense of pride then he would have realized the truth a lot sooner and accepted it. Although he began by acting in a positive manner, the positive actions prevented him to believe and caused his downfall. Oedipus, being the tragic hero that he is falls into bad fortune because of such flaws in his character. However these traits made Oedipus what he is and therefore at some point in his life he was a great man.