“How did Oedipus’s Fatal Flaw Bring about his Downfall?”

Oedipus the King is an Athenian tragedy written by Sophocles. It tells the story of a man, blinded by his own wants and needs, who eventually ends up falling to his actions. After bringing his own downfall upon himself, it is too late by the time he realizes he caused this himself to fix or reverse what he’s done. Oedipus’ fatal flaw, his unruly and untamable arrogance, brought upon his downfall by causing him to become much too confident in the fact the tragedy of his kingdom was not the fault of his own, until it was too late and he was proven otherwise.

The tale of Oedipus is one of hubris, pride, overconfidence, and rage. Brought about by the murder of a man who was unknowingly to him his blood father, the kingdom to which he eventually ruled over would end up with a curse, a second one from the one in which he solved, which would be his fault. Oedipus had heard from the oracle that he was destined to kill his father and lay with his mother. In attempts to avoid such a tragic future, after asking his adoptive parents if they were his real parents and receiving a firm yes, he ran away. He kills Laius, his blood father who had him sent for murder at birth but was just abandoned by the shepherd, on his way to Thebes, the city where Laius ruled. Upon his arrival, he was prompted by a sphinx who would either kill him or, upon solving the riddle, leave the city. With the correct answer, he frees Thebes of the Sphinx. As a lovely offering, the widowed queen of the very recently passed king is essentially offered to Oedipus. He marries her and they have children— the result of laying together.

There comes upon a moment when the gods above are angry. There was a curse thrown upon Thebes, to which Creon tell Oedipus that if whoever killed Laius is found and prosecuted, the curse will be lifted. Oedipus sends for Teiresias, who tells Oedipus, much to his dismay, that it was him that had killed Laius. However, because of his blind confidence, Oedipus had already promised to banish whoever did the deed. He is in denial, because his belief that he had not caused the death of Laius. Jocasta, his wife, tells him not to be concerned by the words of Teiresias. She told him this story of when her and Laius has been told by a prophet that their soon to be born son would kill his father and lay with her. Of course that would have no happened, because Jocasta and Laius has had the child killed. The prophecy could not come true, of course.

Well, it had. Upon realization that this was all of his fault, Oedipus ends up blinding himself. This in and of itself is ironic as he’s become more open minded to how his behaviors have affected him without his sight versus before. He leaves Thebes as he swore to banish who had done this.

Oedipus had the belief he could escape anything. In a world where the gods control everything that happens, he had ignored a prophet who had told him his destiny. Oedipus, confident he would not have a future where he lay with his mother and kill his father, under the impression his adoptive parents were his true parents, left. He believed he could escape the fate destined to him, but on his way out of his life to “avoid” his destiny given by the prophet, he kills his blood father on a crossroads out of anger. It’s seemingly very ironic that in attempts to avoid killing off his father he ends up doing so. This also leads him to saving his blood father’s kingdom and marrying his blood mother.

In denying his fate, or attempting to escape it, he brought it upon himself. His hubris and foolish pride ended up literally causing the marriage and murder he oh so wished to avoid by never returning to Corinth. “I curse myself as well…if by any chance he proves to be an intimate of our house” he says, cursing himself quite literally twice, because he was so convinced that it was not him that would have done that— for in his thoughts he’d left his parents behind.

“Pride breeds the tyrant violent pride, gorging, crammed to bursting with all that is overripe and rich with ruin—clawing up to the heights, headlong pride crashes down the abyss—sheer doom!” -Chorus

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