From Sophocles to Shakespeare and beyond, leading men and women have risen to greatness only to fall into a deep pit of despair and pain. In many instances, the leading characters are responsible for their own demise, and often bring this hurt upon themselves. In Sophocles' tragedy Oedipus the King, King Oedipus does everything in his power to avoid his tragic fate; however, he soon realizes that he can't escape his destiny. .
Before defining Oedipus' tragedy, it is necessary to understand the circumstances that brought him to his downfall. Oedipus' tragedy begins in Thebes before his birth. Shortly before the birth of their son, King Laius and Queen Jocasta received word of a chilling prophecy. They were warned that their newborn son would grow up and kill his father and then shortly after marry and have children with his mother. In order to avoid this horrible fate, Laius and Jocasta decide to abandon their infant son in the mountains, and never look back. After a series of strange events, Oedipus ends up in Thebes, where he is crowned King after defeating the Sphinx. Jocasta's brother Creon brings an old blind prophet named Teiresias to Thebes with an interesting prophecy. Oedipus' past slowly unfolds, and finally both Oedipus and Jocasta learn the horrible truth. Jocasta runs into the house and hangs herself in a fit of despair, while grief stricken Oedipus pokes his eyes out with Jocasta's broaches. Oedipus' tragedy is much deeper than it appears. Oedipus was in serious denial since he first learned of his fate many years prior to the story coming full circle. Pride and arrogance were two of Oedipus' most obvious characteristics, and after learning the truth he destroys his own vision because he wouldn't be able to face his parents in death or the city of Thebes again. Oedipus' pride finally caught up to him in the end, and it defines the tragedy of his life. Oedipus can also be defined as a classic example of a tragic hero.