Aristotle once said that a heros downfall must be a result of some tragic flaw within the character. This flaw was known as hamartia in the Greek world of Aristotle. Since Aristotle greatly admired Oedipus the King, many people believe that Oedipus must have had a prominent and complex hamartia. Discovering Oedipus hamartia within the play is not an easy task. In fact, it is impossible to point out Oedipus hamartia since I do not believe that he has one. Everything that he says or does throughout the play is justifiable in one way or another. There is always some logical explanation behind his thoughts and actions and, thus, Oedipus does not have a tragic flaw in his character.
There are a number of different points that one can analyze and claim to be Oedipushamartia. For instance, some people may examine Oedipus bad temper and label this as the flaw that leads to his downfall. Oedipus becomes enraged at Teiresias claim that he is the one who murdered Laius and he begins to believe that this is an attempt by Creon to overthrow him. Despite Oedipus anger in this situation, his reaction can be justified. First of all, Teiresias allegation that Oedipus is the killer is absurd to him since he would
never murder a king. Also, it seems logical that Creon would be behind such a scheme since he would be next in line to the throne. Therefore, Oedipus bad temper cannot be considered his hamartia.
Another characteristic of Oedipus that some people tend to refer to as his hamartia is his murderous temperament. One can see this side of Oedipus when he recounts the story in which he killed the old man in the wagon as well as a few of the mans servants. However, Oedipus murderous rage was completely justified in this situation. After all, the old man and his servants were trying to throw Oedipus off the road by brute force. Oedipus, in a sense, was merely defending himself from these men and killed them only out of self-defense and rage. Hence, Oedipus murderous temperament cannot be his tragic flaw.
Some people even believe that Oedipus hamartia was carelessness. Surely anyone told about killing his father and sleeping with his mother would have avoided killing any man and sleeping with any woman. Oedipus, on the other hand, did kill a man and he did sleep with a woman. Therefore, some critics believe that he was careless. Oedipus, however, was completely careful in that he did everything in his will to get away from his parents. The only problem was that the parents he knew all his life were not his true parents. But this cannot be considered Oedipusfault nor can carelessness be viewed as his hamartia.
There are two other points that may be considered to be Oedipus tragic flaw. One deals with his possible pride and arrogance. Some people think that he is overly proud about his success with the Sphinx. This cannot be true, however, because he includes himself in the curse he made and is more than anxious to find the truth. The other point is Oedipus fatal curiosity which led to his inquiry into matters (Laius death) that might have been best left unexplored. This can hardly be considered a flaw by either the Greeks of ancient times or by people today. The truth is out there and although it may be unpalatable or dangerous, it is better than ignorance.
In conclusion, Oedipus the king of Thebes does not have a hamartia in the play. All of his emotions and actions throughout the play are completely justified and, thus, he doesnt possess a tragic flaw. Simply because a hero suffers a dreadful downfall, it does
not necessarily result from his own faults.