View Full Version : Odipus as a tragic hero???

12-04-2009, 06:48 PM
aright guys, so i have a paper coming up and i have to compare Oedipus and Hamlet...so i just wanted to see different opinions of how Oedipus can be seen as a tragic hero....am just looking for some opinions, whether it be opposing or for...

12-04-2009, 07:11 PM
Oedipus is pretty much what the idea of a tragic hero is based on...

There are a few key factors according to Aristotle that makes Oedipus a tragic figure. He's a noble, he has a fall (a reversal of fortune, peripeteia), something about his character causes the fall (this is often called the "tragic flaw", Aristotle called it the hamartia), he recognizes that he is responsible (anagnorisis), his fall arouses fear and pity in the audience, his fall results in some sort of rise of character and catharsis (in the hero and the audience according to Aristotle), and finally the fall seems disproportionately harsh because the hero isn't completely at fault.

I would ask you to think about the differences between Hamlet and Oedipus. How is Hamlet responsible for his downfall? Does Hamlet learn something from his experience? Why does Oedipus live on, while Hamlet dies?

12-04-2009, 07:28 PM
ok...(i onli have to use Odipus Rex btw)...but what sets me off track is that Hamlet had a purpose, revenge. Oedipus, on the other hand, not so much. He was not aware that the man he killed at the crossroads was his father and he also didn't know that the queen was his mother (until later on). So, it is much easier to say that Hamlet was a hero in that he was trying to punish his father's killer. But Oedipus..........

12-04-2009, 07:53 PM
Well first we have to consider where the play begins and what's happening at that time.

Oedipus is king of Thebes and there's a plague going on. So, what does Oedipus do? He immediately sets out to fix things. The oracle tells Kreon that the plague is happening because the murder of the last king was not punished. So, Oedipus pledges to find the murderer and have him exiled. Ironically, we know that Oedipus is the murderer. If Oedipus hadn't been a dutiful and good king, he could have just ignored the curse and he never would have discovered his own crime.

Above all, what makes Oedipus a hero is that when he discovers his crime he accepts his punishment and he learns that no man can defy fate. His ability to learn from his error makes him a hero.

12-04-2009, 08:01 PM
aright...but can u really say that he learned from his error??? caz the reason that he gauges out his eyes at the end is because he doesnt want to make himself prone to any other knowledge....kind of like an action of spite...

12-04-2009, 08:09 PM
It might help to read the follow up play Oedipus at Colonus.

Oedipus definitely does learn though, his pride is definitely diminished. You are right on one level that he gauges out his eyes because he doesn't want any more "knowledge". However, one of the major themes in this play is the conflict between the knowledge of man and divine knowledge. Oedipus had complete faith in his own personal knowledge, he was a man of logic who solved the Sphinx's riddle. His blinding can represent his realization that his knowledge is not what he thought it was, and ultimately man cannot approach the knowledge of the gods.

Edit: On top of it being a form of self-punishment beyond even his exile. Oedipus goes beyond the punishment that would be required for his crime.

12-04-2009, 08:15 PM
thnx a lot. youve truly been a great... :)

12-04-2009, 08:19 PM
No problem, good luck on your paper.