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Does Oedipus have a “tragic flaw”?

Does Oedipus have a “tragic flaw”? Does he have a character trait, or does he make a mistake, that leads to his fall? Is anything revealed about him in his mistaken accusation against Creon in Scene II?

Teiresias tells Oedipus, “Creon is no hurt to you, / but you are to yourself” (lines 416-17). Later, as realization is dawning on him, Oedipus exclaims, “What have you designed, O Zeus, to do with me?” (line 802)). Is Oedipus responsible for what happens to him, or is it unavoidable Fate? Could he have done anything to have avoided the prophecies that predicted that he would do exactly what he did, despite his efforts to avoid them. Were those efforts perhaps a mistake?

In lines 737-38, Creon tells Oedipus, “natures like yours / are justly heaviest for themselves to bear.” What does he mean here? Is he right?

Look at the Unit Four lecture on “Tragedy and Comedy.” Identify several qualities of tragedies listed there and explain why the either fit or don’t fit Oedipus the King.

Oedipus is often used as the classic example of a tragic hero. Does his wife Iocasta have any of the qualities of a tragic hero? Might it make sense to see her as a tragic figure, or does she not fit the standard definition in some ways? See textbook and lecture discussions of tragic heroes.

Does the plot of Oedipus the King resemble in any way the plot of a mystery novel? What similarities and differences do you note?

As we discussed back in Unit One, Aristotle argued that plots create some of their important emotional effects by creating moments of recognition and reversal (ideally at the same time). Is the plot of Oedipus the King shaped by such moments? What sorts of emotions do we feel at those moments?

Let’s say you are producing Oedipus the King, and you’re allowed to choose three props total. What would you choose and why would you choose them?


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