The Archetype of a Tragic Hero: Oedipus

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Dakota Maye Ms.Springer English 10 13 March 2013 The Archetype of a Tragic Hero Sophocles uses the archetype of a tragic hero in Oedipus the King. An archetype is a universal pattern that can be seen from one work to another. Archetypes are used to help the reader identify with and relate to the main character. The tragic hero archetype has the potential for greatness but is doomed to fail. In Oedipus the King, one trait that makes Oedipus a tragic hero is that he is responsible for his own fate. Oedipus marries his mother, Queen Jocasta, and kills his father, King Lauis. When Oedipus is communicating with the city of Thebes he says, “Not pointed out as wedded to the one who weaned me. Now I am god-abandoned a son of sin and sorrows all incest-sealed with the womb that bore me” (74). Also, when the official who is telling the city of Thebes that Oedipus blinded himself he says, “He shouts for all the barriers to be unbarred and he displayed to all of Thebes, his father’s murderer, his mothers…no, a word too foul to say…”(71). Even though Oedipus didn’t know that Lauis was his father it was still his choice to kill him and marry Jocasta although it was his mother. In addition to Oedipus being responsible for his fate he is also endowed with a tragic flaw and is doomed to make a serious error in judgment. Oedipus is arrogant and stubborn and these flaws cause him to accuse people of things they didn’t do. For example, when Oedipus says to Tiresias,”Yes, you, you planned this thing, and I suspect you of the very murder even, all but the actual stroke” (20).He is accusing Tiresias of murdering Lauis when the actual murderer is Oedipus himself. Along with being endowed with a tragic flaw and being responsible for his own fate, Oedipus eventually suffers mentally and physically. Oedipus physically harms himself by gauging his eyes out when he realizes his tragic
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