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Oedipus the King Research Papers

In research papers on Oedipus the King by Sophocles, there is the example of the classic tragic hero in the character Oedipus.  Often defined in research papers as one of the best Greek tragedies, “Oedipus the King” defines the tragic hero through the life of Oedipus the king of Thebes.  The end of the play brings about Oedipus’s downfall in which he is exiled from the kingdom. Throughout your Oedipus the King Research Paper, however, there are distinct factors that contribute to the tragic downfall of Oedipus.  Three contributing factors that find their way into the disastrous fall of Oedipus:

  1. The prophecy of the Oracle
  2. Oedipus’s solving of the Sphinx’s riddle
  3. Oedipus’ killing of his real father

Background on Oedipus the King

Oedipus the KingOedipus the King tells the story of an ancient man but his story, his weaknesses and his mistakes are still relevant to audiences and readers today.  Oedipus, the ancient king of the story, is well-known in modern times because his name has become the definition of a psychological syndrome, the Oedipus Complex.  This term is used to define men who love their mothers and hate their fathers.  Oedipus unfortunately and unwittingly killed his father and married his mother.  His mistakes resulted in tragedy for his country and his family when his errors brought a plague to his country and eventually resulted in his downfall.

Not only did the gods control Oedipus’s move from his home but they also pushed for the truth to be revealed when they sent the message with Creon that the murderer of Laius be found and exiled.  Oedipus promises to obey the gods and actively pursue King Laius’ killer.  The gods are in complete control as Oedipus unknowingly follows what they have requested.

Oedipus the King is a bright, successful leader of his country who has a rare talent for solving riddles including one proffered by the Sphinx who held his country captive.  The words of a priest reveal the regard that the people have for their king. “We tell ourselves, you had a god's help when you pulled us back to life. Once more, Oedipus, we need your power”.  His skill frees his countrymen from the tyranny of the Sphinx. Oedipus is extremely proud of his abilities as demonstrated in his words from the play as follows.  “I thought it wrong to let messengers speak for you, my sons, I must hear your words myself, so I have come out, I, Oedipus, the name that all men know”.

Unfortunately in spite of his success and talent, Oedipus the King has a tragic flaw that leads to his troubles at the end of his life because he refused to listen to the clues that would lead him to the truth, reveal his participation in the murder of his father, and prevent him from learning the mistake of marrying his own mother.  His refusal to see the truth is the result of his hubris as the clues are available, but his lofty position, the adulation of those around him, and his stubborn nature keep him from avoiding the disaster produced by his own weaknesses.

The qualities that make him a successful ruler also lead to his destruction.  He is a decisive leader who made decisions that helped those under his rule.  His decisive actions help him to free his people from the plague of the city.  Similar actions at a place where three roads met and other travelers ran him off the road, and his hasty actions of revenge led to the death of his father, King Laius.  He did not realize at the time that this man was his father who had given him to a shepherd for protection when he thought that forces threatened the infant child.

The tragedy of Oedipus is compounded by the contributing factors of his life which include the prophecy of the Oracle, his ability to solve the Sphinx’s riddle and save the city of Thebes, and his murdering of his real father.  Oedipus wanted to control his fate but did not know that this was not possible.  Although he is somewhat responsible for his actions that contributed to his downfall, the responsibility for this tragedy is definitely placed on the gods.  It is unfortunate that Oedipus would not realize that there is no control over fate until it was too late for him.

Related Research Paper Topics

The Trial of Oedipus the King - This book report will include the formal speech of Oedipus, in which he outlines the charges brought against him, and offers a defense for those charges.

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Oedipus Rex and Blindness - In Oedipus Rex research papers, a student should point out how Sophocles presented many classic themes, including man's struggle between fate and free will.

Greek Literature - Greek Literature Research Papers focus on the famous ancient Greek authors such as Homer, Thucydides and Herodotus.

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