As one of the most renowned tragedies ever written, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex explores a variety of complex themes.
One of the most prominent themes is that of a tragic flaw. A tragic flaw is defined as “a failing or weakness in the protagonist of a tragedy that brings about his downfall” (Tragic Flaw).
In Oedipus Rex, there are three major flaws that contribute to Oedipus’ downfall: hubris, impatience, and anger.
Hubris is defined as “excessive pride or arrogance” (Hubris). This is evident in Oedipus when he refuses to believe that he could be responsible for the death of King Laius, even when all of the evidence points to him.
Oedipus is also impatient, as seen when he demands that the truth about King Laius’ death be revealed immediately. This ultimately leads to his downfall, as he rushes to judgment and condemns an innocent man to death.
Finally, Oedipus is quick to anger. This is most evident when he blinded himself after learning the truth about his parentage. If he had not been so quick to anger, he could have avoided this tragic outcome.
While hubris, impatience, and anger are all tragic flaws that contribute to Oedipus’ downfall, it is important to note that his ultimate tragedy is not caused by any one of these flaws alone. Rather, it is the combination of all three that leads to his undoing.
If you’re interested in exploring the theme of tragic flaws further, we recommend checking out our articles on the Tragic Flaws of Macbeth and the Tragic Flaws of Hamlet.
Oedipus the King, a play by ancient Greek writer Sophocles, is one of the finest examples of Greek tragedy. Oedipus Rex centers on Oedipus’s downfall and how his bad qualities ruined him. Instead of blaming it on fate, Sophocles’ goal is to show how pride and other personal factors contributed to his failure instead than just fate as had been foretold in his prophecy.
The play is still studied and performed today because it contains many universal themes, such as the dangers of hubris.
Oedipus’ tragic flaw is his arrogance, which led him to unintentionally kill his father and marry his mother. His arrogance also caused him to refuse to believe that he could have committed such horrible acts, even when all the evidence was pointing to him. Oedipus’s stubbornness in not wanting to accept the truth led to his downfall. Another tragic flaw of Oedipus is his excessive pride, which blinded him to the truth and led him to make rash decisions.
Oedipus’s flaws ultimately led to his demise, but they also teach valuable lessons about the dangers of hubris and the importance of accepting the truth. Although his story is a tragedy, it can still be appreciated for its universal themes and the lessons that it teaches.
The use of blindness and sight is the most important symbol in Sophocles’s tragedy, and excessive pride is the most significant tragic flaw. The significance of this emblematic message resides in the fact that it is delivered through various tragic flaws and symbols.
For example, Oedipus’s name means “swollen foot”, which could be seen as a symbol for his blindness to see the truth about himself and his family. He is also said to have received his name from the fact that he was born with his feet turned backwards, another symbol for his blindness. The oracle at Delphi tells Oedipus that he will kill his father and marry his mother, but Oedipus doesn’t believe her because he can’t see how this could be possible.
Oedipus’s tragic flaw is his excessive pride, which leads him to make several rash decisions throughout the play. For example, when Oedipus finds out that he has killed his father and married his mother, he gouges out his own eyes in order to avoid having to see the truth.
Sophocles uses these tragic flaws and symbols to send the message that excessive pride can lead to blindness, both literal and figurative. He also shows that it is important to be able to see the truth, even if it is painful.
Oedipus serves as a foil to Tiresias, the blind prophet who knows the truth of the prophecy. Tiresias may be physically sightless, yet metaphorically he is far less blind than Oedipus (lines 340-345).
Tiresias, on the other hand, is very reserved in comparison to Oedipus. Tiresias is not as brash and proud as Oedipus, who can physically see well but is blind metaphorically; and Tiresias is physically sightless but extremely gifted at seeing metaphorically.
Anagnorisis is also a key element in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Anagnorisis is defined as “a sudden realization or recognition, typically when the truth is revealed,” and it occurs when Oedipus finally realizes that he himself is the killer of Laius. This is the climax of the play, and it happens right before Oedipus gouges out his own eyes in horrified realization at what he has done.
Oedipus’ tragic flaw then, seems to be his pride, which leads him to make rash decisions without thinking them through, and ultimately causes his downfall. He does not listen to those who try to warn him, such as Tiresias and Jocasta, and instead relies on his own understanding, which is ultimately flawed. Oedipus’ tragic flaw leads him to his downfall, as he realizes too late the truth of the prophecy.
Despite being shown with tangible evidence throughout the play, Oedipus didn’t discover the truth until the end. This is a clear indication of Oedipus’ character. From the start of their discussions with Tiresias, Oedipus is accused of causing the issues, “You are the curse, the corruption of the land!” (line 401), which he naturally dismisses.
If Oedipus had only listened to Tiresias, and not become so angered, he may have realized what was happening sooner, and saved himself and his family a lot of pain. But alas, Oedipus’ tragic flaw is his hubris, which blinded him to the truth.
Oedipus’ tragic flaw is his hubris, which led him to believe that he was above the gods, and that their predictions could not possibly apply to him. This eventually led to his downfall, as it caused him to ignore evidence that should have been obvious to him. If Oedipus had not been so arrogant, he could have avoided his tragic fate.