Pity in Oedipus Rex

In: English and Literature

Submitted By amandamckerrow
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Pity for Oedipus Rex.
In Sophocles’ King Oedipus play, a series of misfortunate events led by fate and the word of the gods takes its course. Although many look down upon Oedipus for his prideful attitude and short temper, he is not to be blamed for the calamities that take place. He shows nothing but sheer determination throughout the entire play and acts almost always on good intentions. Oedipus elicits pity as his intentions were pure in his pursuit to save the people of Thebes, proving that accidental infractions will always overpower intentional good deeds.
Determination, which is typically a positive human trait, ends up being Oedipus’ hamartia, his most tragic flaw. In an attempt to uncover his origin of birth, Oedipus receives a distressing prophecy: “he was destined one day to kill his father and become his own mother’s husband.” (Sophocles, The Theban Legend 23). He is determined to avoid this horrible fate so he decides to flee from Corinth and do whatever is necessary to keep him and his family safe. “But by chance he came to hear, again by the mouth of Apollo’s ministers, the terrible prediction concerning him…He fled from Corinth, resolved never again to set eyes on his supposed father and mother as long as they lived.” (Sophocles, 24). As the play progresses, Oedipus continues to show utter determination throughout his quest, not once, but twice. He solves the riddle of the Sphinx upon arrival at Thebes which is what merits him with kingship in the beginning of the play. He is then driven in his pursuit to discover and banish the killer of the former king. “I mean to fight with him now, as I would fight for my own father, and leave no way untried to bring light to the killer of Laius.” (Sophocles, 265-267). Determination is generally an admirable trait, but in the case of Oedipus, being lazy would have been more beneficial to him. If he had chosen to…...

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