Hamartia is a Greek word that typically refers to a tragic flaw or error in judgment. In Oedipus the King, Sophocles uses hamartia to describe Oedipus’s tragic flaw of hubris, or excessive pride. This tragic flaw leads Oedipus to make several errors in judgment that ultimately result in his downfall. For example, Oedipus stubbornly refuses to believe that he could be the murderer of King Laius, even when all the evidence points to him.
This eventually causes Oedipus toblind himself in despair and exile himself from Thebes. Similarly, Oedipus’s excessive pride leads him to ignore the warnings of the Oracle at Delphi, which results in him inadvertently fulfilling the prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. In sum, Oedipus’s hamartia of hubris leads to his downfall. Although hamartia is often used in a negative sense, it can also be seen as a positive quality in Oedipus the King.
Oedipus’s stubbornness and determination to find the killer of King Laius, even when all evidence points to him, ultimately leads to him solving the mystery. Similarly, Oedipus’s refusal to give up despite all the challenges he faces could be seen as a positive quality. In this sense, hamartia can be seen as a tragic flaw that ultimately leads to Oedipus’s downfall, but also as a positive quality that helps him solve the mystery.
The tragic hero in a tragedy should not succumb to either immoderate virtue or excessive vice, according to the Aristotelian criteria of excellence. Hamartia may be interpreted as a fault in character or as a mistake in judgment. Oedipus, the tragic protagonist in Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, makes numerous mistakes; nevertheless, his judgemental errors appear to stem from a fundamental character flaw that causes them.
Oedipus is, in fact, too quick to believe and too quick to judge. Oedipus’ hasty actions are first evident when he attempts to avoid the prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother. Oedipus does not want to believe that this could be true, so instead of investigating whether or not the prophecy is actually true, he leaves Corinth immediately. Oedipus’ fear of the prophecy leads him right into its fulfillment. Oedipus could have saved himself a lot of heartache if he had just taken some time to find out if the prophecy was actually true before running away.
Again, when Oedipus learns that Polybus, the man he thought was his father, has died, Oedipus’ first impulse is to flee Corinth. Oedipus believes that this new development means that the prophecy is about to come true and he will kill his father. However, instead of waiting around to see if this is actually the case, Oedipus leaves Corinth in a hurry. As it turns out, Oedipus does not end up killing his father after all. If Oedipus had just waited a little while longer, he would have realized that there was no need to run away.
Oedipus’ hastiness is also evident when he tries to find out who killed Laius. Oedipus is so anxious to find the killer that he does not bother to investigate thoroughly. Oedipus just accepts the first story he hears, without looking into it any further. As a result, Oedipus ends up accusing an innocent man, who then has to be put to death. Oedipus’ hasty judgement in this case leads to tragic consequences.
Oedipus’ quickness to believe and quickness to judge are two character flaws that lead to his downfall. Oedipus is too trusting and too eager to find answers, which causes him to make several mistakes that ultimately lead to his ruin. Oedipus’ hamartia, then, is his impulsiveness, which causes him to act without thinking things through first.
Oedipus’ impulsiveness leads him to believe the prophecy without investigating it, to flee Corinth without waiting to see if he actually needs to, and to accuse an innocent man of murder. Oedipus’ hasty actions lead to his downfall, proving that hamartia can indeed be a character flaw that leads to tragedy.
Oedipus’ impulsive nature also leads him to ignore Jocasta’s pleas and instead continue with the investigation of his own birth, which eventually leads to his downfall.
Oedipus’ hamartia is twofold: first, his hubris leads him to believe that he can outsmart fate; and second, his impulsive nature causes him to acted rashly, without thinking through the consequences of his actions.
Oedipus’ hubris is evident from the very beginning of the play, when he proclaims that anyone who knows who killed Laius will be “richly rewarded, while he who conceals it will be punished just as harshly,” (ll. 15-17) despite the fact that Oedipus himself does not know who killed Laius. Oedipus is so confident in his own abilities that he believes he can solve the mystery and find the killer, even though no one else has been able to do so. This confidence leads him to act rashly, without considering the consequences of his actions.
For example, when Oedipus learns from the oracle that he is destined to kill his father and marry his mother, he immediately leaves Corinth, without giving any thought to what he will do or where he will go. If Oedipus had taken some time to think about his situation, he might have realized that there was a chance that he could avoid his fate. However, his hubris and impulsive nature cause him to act without thinking, which eventually leads to his downfall.
Oedipus’ hamartia is ultimately responsible for his downfall. If Oedipus had not been so confident in his own abilities, he might have avoided the investigation into his birth. If Oedipus had not been so impulsive, he might have listened to Jocasta and stopped the investigation before it was too late. However, Oedipus’ hubris and impulsive nature lead him to make a series of rash decisions that eventually result in his downfall.
Oedipus is adamant in his obstinacy, and he takes no advice from anybody who would ask him to drop the subject of his identity, among them Tiresias, the shepherd, and even Jocasta. Even after Oedipus believes he has been given a reprieve from his terrible destiny when he learns that Polybus is gone, he does not have the sense to remain silent.
Oedipus’ hamartia, then, is his tragic flaw: his overbearing pride and determination that led him to discover the truth about himself, even though that knowledge brought only misery. Oedipus’ stubbornness and lack of humility are what bring about his ruin.
Oedipus’ hamartia, or tragic flaw, was his hubris, and excessive pride that led to his downfall. Oedipus’ pride caused him to ignore the advice of Teiresias, Jocasta, and Creon, which would have helped him avoid his tragic fate. Oedipus’ hamartia is also evident in his treatment of Kreon. Oedipus banishes Kreon for what Oedipus perceives as treason, when in fact Kreon was only trying to help Oedipus see the truth. Oedipus’ excessive pride prevented him from seeing the truth about himself, and ultimately led to his downfall.
When examined individually, each of these occurrences may be excused as an innocent mistake. When considered collectively, though, a pattern emerges among these blunders. The overall consequence is suggestive of an underlying character flaw. Oedipus’ hamartia is most likely his mistakes, but they ultimately derive from his ego. Hamartia refers to a flaw for Oedipus in the most direct sense possible.
Oedipus the King is about a man who was born to a noble family, but who has a tragic flaw that brings him down. Oedipus’ tragic flaw is his hubris, or excessive pride. Oedipus’ hamartia leads him to make several mistakes throughout the play that ultimately lead to his downfall.
Oedipus’ first mistake is marrying Jocasta without knowing that she is his mother. Oedipus’ second mistake is killing his father, Laius. Oedipus’ third and final mistake is blinding himself after learning the truth about his parentage. Each of these mistakes can be traced back to Oedipus’ hubris. Oedipus’ hubris leads him to believe that he is better than anyone else and that he can do whatever he wants without consequences. This ultimately leads to Oedipus’ downfall, as his hubris blinds him to the truth about himself and causes him to make tragic mistakes.