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Oedipus represents the classical Greek concept of the tragic hero, and the burgeoning theme of Greek humanism: the impulse of the great individual who rises above the community. In this way, the Oedipus is a parable about the nature of human progress, revealed in metaphors that concentrate on human pursuits like sailing and agriculture. The Greek tragedians and Aristotle have been ascribed "oracular"—or absolute--status in configuring the roots of Western drama. But Oedipus, though a classical tragic hero, also displays a human emotion heretofore unknown in Greek drama. Oedipus, in short, represents not just the fulfillment of the oracle but a human response to it that embraces tenderness and courage.
Oedipus has to be considered the hero of the play. The notion of tragedy and the idea of what constitutes and defines it is best seen in his predicament. Not only is his namesake the root of the title of the play, the examination of the arc of his life would make him the central character of Sophocles' drama. At the same time, each character in the play is linked to Oedipus and his tragic flaw and condition. This helps to make him the hero of the drama. When we say, "hero" this is not necessarily the idea of a positive or triumphant figure. His condition is one rooted in tragedy, evolution in characterization, and the notion that individual tragic flaws can represent the essence of personal and social destruction. No other character in the play best typifies this condition than he does.
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