Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex is a tragic tale of a fated boy who goes on the path from noble king to lowly beggar through a combination of tragic circumstances and personal flaw. Oedipus is a man of high standing socially, intellectually and morally, but is arrogant enough to think that he can solve the riddle of the murderer of Laius by himself. Whilst trying to untie the puzzle, he ends up pulling apart his own life and security. His actions regarding the pursuit of truth show that he is a tragic hero, because he has combination of good intentions for fervent pursuit of a noble ideal, but at huge personal cost.Order now
It can be argued that his ultimate downfall is either his own fault for being so arrogant and blind, or that it was a noble pursuit which had an inevitable but tragic outcome. Oedipus’ past is truly an intriguing predicament, which, with the sparking of certain events, cannot be left dormant. His own past is a result of his and his parents’ actions. He is cast out of his home by his parents after his terrible prophecy is given, and he leaves Corinth after he is told of his own fate, only to fulfil it later.
Their determination to defeat fate is the cause of their ultimate downfall, and they are the very reason his past is so clouded and obscured. When the ball begins to unravel, Oedipus finds himself driven more and more to uncover his complicated past, and this pursuit, despite being told by many to stop, causes his downfall. Oedipus’ flaws seem to be the driving force behind his actions, and his inability to accept deception is admirable but dangerous. Oedipus’ fate can be argued to be entirely his own fault. He is arrogant and tyrannical in his relentless search, and in refusing to heed warnings, he brings it upon himself.
Dangerous actions bring terrible consequences, and refusing to live in blindness is a very dangerous thing, though morally it may be admirable and sought after. Even before the search begins, his previous actions have exaggerated the magnitude of the final outcome. He and his parents set up a complicated predicament through their stubbornness to defeat prophecy. In many ways, if they had not fought the prophecy and had kept their child close, the whole situation would not have been quite as atrocious and traumatic.
Later, Oedipus’ misunderstanding of the prophecy and his lineage, and the actions he takes against these assumptions cause a few problems. Firstly, he banishes himself from his one true home, bringing him closer to his real parents, and secondly, he condemns himself to be banished from Thebes under his own law. These actions were made in careless blindness and impulsive reasoning, and are thus the fault of none other than himself. With this self-constructed, intricately thatched mess of a story, unravelling is a tedious, painful, and dangerous process, and even in this light, Oedipus persists in destroying his comfortable place in society.
Thus, Oedipus’ pursuit of the truth in this particular circumstance is not noble, but arrogant and blind. In refusing to heed the warnings and accept his current life, he causes his own downfall, and the haughty, tyrannical nature of his hunt is brutal and self-destructive. However, despite being too hasty in his search, his pursuit is noble in nature. Though he does not feel the ramifications until the very end, he is constantly aware that carrying on with the search could be dangerous. Though on the surface and to outside interpretation, the actions appear brash, but such courageousness in the face of adversary is truly admirable in nature.
His high moral standings are evident throughout the play, especially at the end when the curse is finally revealed and he is presented with the problem of upholding the law and accepting the punishment. Not only does he banish himself, but he removes his eyes and absolves himself from the human world. Living in agony as opposed to dying in peace, he not only accepts the punishment, but takes it further, seeing himself as the ultimate crime upon humanity. This shows the epitome of his moral strength and clarity.
It is visible that all of his actions are primarily driven by strong ethical grounding, and that the pursuit itself is a very noble and right-minded. Truth is desired by all, though few uphold and pursue it. Oedipus pursues it vigorously, despite it being the ultimate threat. Oedipus’ actions are noble in nature but arrogant in action. They show that the pursuit of truth is dangerous and difficult, often with disastrous outcomes, but necessary and, above all, noble. Without the few people like Oedipus in society, all would be blind to the truth.