Man is composed of many different characteristics: some may be a positive influence on his personage, while others have obvious negative impacts. Yet, sometimes a potentially positive characteristic may cause his eventual downfall. This concept can be directly related to the story of Oedipus. Aristotle stated, ‘the tragic hero falls into bad fortune because of some flaw in his character of the kind found in men of high reputation and good fortune such as Oedipus.’ ; Essentially, he is telling us that Oedipus has a major flaw within himself that, under normal circumstances, would be a beneficial characteristic, but in his case, causes his demise. There are a few things about Oedipus that can be attributed to his downfall. Two major and influential factors are his pride and determination.
Oedipus’ personality clearly reflects pride and determination throughout the play. When Oedipus heard the oracles’ prediction that he was to kill his father and marry his mother, he was determined to prevent the prophecy. Therefore he left his homeland of Corinth never to return. Then when he solved the Sphinx’s riddle, Oedipus’ pride rose to a new level. He was praised by the people of Thebes, resulting in his marriage to Jocasta, Queen of Thebes.
Oedipus also shows his determination when in search of Laius’ murderer. He stated that he would avenge the King’s death as if Laius were his own father. He cursed the murderer, announcing ‘May he drag out an evil death-in-life in misery.’ ; These characteristics of pride and determination, which Oedipus emanates throughout the play, may appear to be positive attributes to one’s personality. However, Oedipus’ actions, based on these characteristics, are what led him to his eventual downfall and suffrage. If Oedipus had not been so determined to escape and prevent the prophecy, he would not have fulfilled it. Possibly, he was doomed to fulfill the prophecy because he believed he could avoid it.
Oedipus’ fate was determined by the Oracle, the cause for his demise was himself. One aspect of Oedipus personality that leads to his downfall is his constant search for truth. Throughout the play, Oedipus is always trying to discover something whether it be about himself or an attempt at uncovering someone else as an enemy. If he hadn’t been in that mindset, he may have been able to keep himself ...
Nevertheless, his fate was sealed by his actions of pride and determination. His pride of conquering the Sphinx led him to the marriage of Jocasta, his mother. When avenging Jocasta’s previous husband, and his true father, King Laius’ death, he was blinded by his pride to the concept that perhaps he was the murderer. Not knowing the truth, he cursed himself to an ‘evil death-in-life of misery’; . Of course at that time, Oedipus failed to realize his connections to Jocasta and Laius, but recognition of the truth would bring him to his eventual suffrage.
When the blind prophet Tiresias stated that Oedipus was the murderer of King Laius, Oedipus’ pride prevented him to believe. However, other events opened his eyes to the tragedy, which had taken place. When his final realization came, and he recognized the truth of what he had done, Oedipus stabbed his eyes with broaches, a mere physical suffering compared to the torture of his soul. He had fulfilled the prophecy because of his own actions, which he had believed were beneficial-based on highly respected attitudes of pride and determination. The story of Oedipus shows that sometimes, what is generally thought of as a positive characteristic may lead to one’s downfall. Oedipus was proud and determined, but if he had not acted on these feelings, he would not have sealed his fate of fulfilling the prophecy.
If Oedipus had reacted differently, he may have avoided the ‘evil death-in-life in misery’; he cursed upon himself.