Consider the protagonist of “Oedipus Rex” as a tragic hero on the Sophoclean concept

  • Oedipus as a tragic hero

Introduction:  Oedipus Rex (429 BC) by Sophocles (497/496-406/405 BC) is a masterpiece of Greek tragedy. It shows the sorrowful history of Oedipus. In this tragedy, fate plays a leading role in the life of Oedipus. Oedipus Rex is the best paradigm of a tragic character.

The conception of a tragic hero

A tragic hero is the central figure of a tragedy. Aristotle’s concept of a tragic hero shows that Oedipus is a tragic hero because of his characteristic features such as his royal birth, Hamartia; which means tragic flaw or error of judgment, Peripetia; which means the downfall of fate, Anagnorisis; which means the sudden discovery of truth, hubris; excessive pride and catharsis, and Nemesis.

To prove Oedipus is a tragic hero we should discuss the features of a tragic hero. There are Sunday features of an ideal tragic hero which are given below: after discussing it will clear that Oedipus is an ideal tragic Hero let’s discuss.


It is a Greek word that stands for a tragic flaw of a character. In the tragedy, Oedipus; the protagonist of the tragedy, becomes a tragic hero because of his tragic flaw. At the very beginning of the tragedy, we find Oedipus as a king of Thebes, and husband of Jocasta; queen of Thebes. He learns from the oracle of Delphi that the plague has fallen on the city of Thebes due to the presence of the killer of the previous king Laius. Oedipus calls the blind prophet Teiresias; who knows about the killer of Laius. Though Teiresias knows the truth but he refuses to disclose it because Oedipus himself is the killer of Laius. In this situation, Oedipus charges Teiresias that he has a conspiracy against Oedipus to dethrone him. besides, he rebukes him by saying sightless, brainless, etc. when Oedipus blames Teiresias without understanding the real matter. Hearing all Teiresias indirectly disclosed that Oedipus himself killed Laius.


Hubris is a Greek word that stands for obsessive pride and disrespect for the natural order of things. Aristotle reveals that an ideal tragic character must not be too good or bad but a person of common character. A character without pride is nothing but an angel. Hubris does not reflect the worse type of people. Hubris prevails in almost all the people of the world Oedipus is not exceptional. we find pride several times in Oedipus’s nature which causes his tragic fate. So, he is an ideal tragic hero.


Peripeteia is one of the fundamental features of an ideal tragic hero. It is a Greek word that refers reversal of fate. The reversal of fate means the journey of a tragic character from happiness to misery or from misery to happiness to trouble. Oedipus is a fine symbol of a tragic hero. the life cycle of Oedipus is misery to happiness then happiness to unbearable misery.


It means the sudden discovery of truth or a real event. In the tragedy. We find that when Oedipus was searching for the killer of the late king Laius. Suddenly, it is discoed that Oedipus himself is the killer of the previous king which breaks the happiness of Oedipus’s life. The prominent feature of an ideal tragic hero Anagnorisis indicates that Oedipus is nothing but an ideal tragic hero.

Nemesis and catharsis

Nemesis reveals the punishment and suffering of the tragic character. Catharsis indicates pity and fear roused within the audience. A tragic character must suffer. When Oedipus learns that he killed his father, married his mother, and begot his child in his mother’s belly. Understanding it, Oedipus blinded himself by Jocasta’s dress pin and lost his throne. Observing the actual situation, the audience in the world does not feel pity and fear to see the misery of King Oedipus. Thus, Oedipus’s unbearable suffering proves that he is a tragic character.

Royal Birth:

According to Aristotle, a tragic hero must be of Royal birth and his or her life ends with unbearable misery, from this point of view it is clear that Oedipus Rex is a tragic hero because he was born into a royal family but the last part of his life full with endless misery.


From the light of the above discussion, we can say that Oedipus is an ideal tragic hero. He possesses qualities as well as the faults of a tragic hero. His downfall comes from his tragic flaw, pride, and excessive self-confidence. so Oedipus is the best paradigm of a tragic hero.

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