In “Oedipus the King,” Aristotle presents him as a good king and a great leader. He does this in the opening scene by highlighting him as a leader concerned about his people’s welfare. Aristotle views him as a man with acceptable moral qualities and a personality that fits a great leader. He shows love to his subjects and goes many nights without sleep, thinking of their welfare. According to Aristotle, Oedipus leads with excellence, authority, and esteem. In the play, the priest praises him as a person “surest in mortal ways and wisest in the wisest in the ways of God,” highlighting an authoritative but God-fearing king (Sophocles). However, Aristotle also presents him as a tragic hero because of his imperfections, tragic flaws. One of Oedipus’s main tragic flaws is excessive pride and self-righteousness, and Aristotle highlights this in the scene between him and Tiresias full of tragic irony.
Aristotle uses Oedipus as an ideal tragic hero by presenting him as an influential person in society that makes an error in judgment, suffering the consequences of their actions. Like Oedipus, the tragic hero must learn a painful lesson of their tragic flaws, setting an example to others in society. Oedipus suffers the tragic flaw of pride and self-righteousness. The king is extremely proud, full of anger, and arrogant that he disregards any advice that comes his way. Although he feels authoritatively in control of his life, he cannot live to the reality and the fate that awaits him (Sophocles). Oedipus has a bad temper and a distorted judgment; an error Aristotle feels is subject to disaster. Throughout the play, Oedipus incorrectly judges situations, and this is because of his misconceived presumption about his abilities. In so doing, he disobeys the gods and their fate for him, thus angering them.
Oedipus’s scene with Teiresias the prophet is full of tragic irony. For instance, after insisting that Teiresias tell him what he knows, he becomes incensed with the truth and loses his mind. Teiresias’ words enrage him, and he begins to insult him. He feels Teiresias insults his kingly status by addressing him as a nobody. He is clouded by pride that he calls him a sightless sot. Ironically, the physically blind Tiresias knows more truth than Oedipus, who has full sight. This scene also shows ironic tragedy in what Oedipus is and what he thinks he is. For instance, he brags to Tiresias about his intellectual ability, such as when he cites his victory over the sphinx (Sophocles). Regarding Tiresias warnings, it is a tragic irony that the reader/audience can see the tragic imports except for Oedipus, who sees the warnings as a madman’s rumblings. He is blinded by his authority, anger, and self-righteousness and falls victim to all of Tiresias’s prophecies unprepared.
One of Oedipus’s main tragic flaws is excessive pride and self-righteousness, and Aristotle highlights this in the scene between him and Tiresias full of tragic irony. Although a good leader, Oedipus suffers from pride and misconceived self-righteousness. His judgments are clouded by his sense of authority and importance over lesser people. He feels he is powerful that he ignores his fate by refusing to acknowledge the gods’ warnings. The scene with Tiresias is full of tragic irony, especially in the moments where he brags to him of his unmatched intelligence, thus disregarding the prophesied fate. His pride makes him more blind to the truth than the physically blind Tiresias.
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Work Cited Sophocles. "Oedipus the King by Sophocles." The Internet Classics Archive: 441 Searchable Works of Classical Literature, classics.mit.edu/Sophocles/oedipus.html.