Oedipus Rex proves to be a tragic hero by displaying the qualities of goodness, appropriateness, and remaining consistent and realistic throughout the entire play. In the prologue of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus illustrates that he is morally good during his speech to the Priest and the suffering people of Thebes. “I know you are deathly sick; and yet, /Sick as you are, not one is as sick as I. /Each of you suffers in himself alone/His anguish, not another’s; but my spirit/Groans for the city, for myself, for you” (Prologue. 63-66). He will not rest until the people are better and Laios’ murderer is found.
Another quality that Oedipus possesses is his appropriateness. He will go to great lengths to do what ever is necessary and appropriate to search for Laios’ murderer and to help save the city, which can be illustrated is this quote: “I will do all that I can; you may tell them that. /So, with the help of God, /We shall be saved-or else indeed we are lost” (Prologue, 147-149). An additional characteristic that contributes to the tragic hero of Oedipus is that he is exceedingly consistent. From the beginning of the play to the end, Oedipus is determined to figure out who killed Laios.
He is consistent and will not stop until he finds the truth. Iokaste tells Oedipus to stop looking for the truth, but Oedipus will not listen. He tells Iokaste, “I will not listen; the truth must be made/known” (3. 145). The last quality that plays a part in Oedipus’ downfall is his realistic outlook. At the end of the play, Oedipus is realistic when he discovers the truth. “And now what is left? /Images? Love? A greeting even, / Sweet to the senses? Is there anything? /An, no friends: lead me away. /Lead me away from Thebes” (Exodos. 171-121).
He is very realistic in knowing that there is nothing left for him in Thebes. Furthermore, Oedipus realistically accepts his fate and lets Kreon become ruler. “No, For the love of God, conceal me/Somewhere far from Thebes; or kill me; or hurl me/Into the sea, away from men’s eyes for ever” (Exodos. 182-184). Oedipus knows what he did is wrong and knows that he deserves to be exiled. He is realistic in his punishment.
Because Oedipus Rex is such a good, appropriate, consistent, and realistic character throughout the entire play, his strengths become his weaknesses and ruin his life; Hence, the tragic hero. To me, I think that two themes throughout Oedipus Rex are universal. First, the theme of self-identity plays a role in this play. I think that everyone can identify with the desire to know whom he or she is, searching for his or her own self-identity. During this play, Oedipus is searching for his identity. That is why he asks the messenger who the shepherd was that had him. “Is he alive? Can I see him? ” (3. 126). Oedipus is searching for the truth, to find out who he really is.
Now, in the year 2001, most people would need to know whom they really are and who their parents are, for a strong self-identity, just as Oedipus needed to know. Additionally, the second universal theme that is existent throughout this play is of faith in Our God. Oedipus has faith in his gods and respects them. That is why Iokaste and Oedipus consult the Oracles for truth. “O Lord Apollo! /May his news be fair as his face radiant! ” (Prologue. 82-83). This shows that he respects Apollo and trusts in him, hoping that he will give him to the truth to help make things right again.
Also, when Kreon arrives with the news from Apollo, Oedipus says, “What answer do you bring us from the god? ” (Prologue. 88). This proves that Oedipus has faith in his god and that his god will have an answer to all of his questions. We have the same faith in Our God as Oedipus has in his. We just express our faith in a little different way than he does. Commonly, (take into account the different religions) if we have problems or rough times in our lives, we put our faith into The Lord and hope for him to answer our prayers. The general theme of faith in God is still alive today.