In my study of the play â€œOedipus Rexâ€ Iâ€™ve learned a lot about the different angles and underlying messages an author might present to his audience in order to drive home a message or teach different lessons. In this essay I would like to examine, in small part, a classic Greek tragedy by Sophocles â€œOedipus Rexâ€. In particular I will discuss some of the more important elements of any great Greek Tragedy such as dramatic irony and paradox.
First, let us look at the main character Oedipus is he a good man? Aristotle says in his poetics that â€œthe most effective tragedy will be about someone who is basically a good man brought low because we will care about what happens to himâ€. (If a bad person has a bad end, not much pity is wasted on him, and the audience might not fear for him; [they might even cheer when he meets his demise.] Can a savior of a city be a hero if he has a quick temper and has pain inflicted on old men? So is Oedipus a good man, deserving of our pity, someone whom we dread to see damaged? In my estimation I believe he is. That, I believe, is what makes this a classic Greek Tragedy.
Next, there seems to be a distinct paradoxical theme that exists in this play, Fate vs. Free Will. To what extent is Oedipus a dupe of the gods who have sealed his fate? To what extent does Oedipus bring about his own downfall? For example, if someone prophesied that you would kill your father and marry your mother, the prudent person would avoid killing all men and resist marrying older women. As in any great tragedy the hero always seems to have a tragic flaw that eventually leads them to their utter destruction. What was Oedipusâ€™s tragic flaw? His arrogance? His unrelenting desire for truth? His desire to be, again, the savior of Thebes? Or perhaps his striving against the gods and fate lead to his downfall.
Lastly, it is difficult to overlook the dramatic irony or overstate the