DIscuss pride as a motif in Oedipus Rex. Things you would like to include is what does the author seem to intend for the audience to understand about pride?

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Oedipus Rex, the theme of pride is evident. The fact that Oedipus thinks he can control his fate reveals his pride. Oedipus believes he can run away from his prophecy. No doubt, Oedipus is proud of the fact that he does not desire to see the prophecy about himself fulfilled. He respects his parents, even though he does not know that they are his adoptive parents. Oedipus plays the role of god by thinking he can keep the terrible prophecy about his future from coming to past. 

Truly, Oedipus sets out to change his destiny. No doubt, Oedipus is a strong man who tries to interfere with fate. His self determination proves he has pride in himself and confidence that he can somehow change the future.

On the road to Thebes, Oedipus shows how prideful he is when he kills his father (not knowing it is his father) over an intersection disagreement. Who had the right of way? While Oedipus had every right to be upset over being forced off the road, he did not have to go to the extent of murder to make himself feel better. Truly, Oedipus allowed his pride and arrogance to control him. He did not use self control when he was forced off the road. Murdering someone over the fact that he was driven off the road definitely shows that Oedipus has a serious flaw which involves his pride.

When Oedipus becomes king, he seems to be revered by the people. No doubt, he was filled with pride at this honor. The people prayed to Oedipus. He was considered a god. The people expected him to heal the land of its plague. Clearly, Oedipus was worshipped:

Oedipus Rex begins outside King Oedipus's palace, where despondent beggars and a priest have gathered and brought branches and wreaths of olive leaves.

The common people feel that Oedipus can perform miracles. They expect him to rid the land of the devastating plague.  

Again, Oedipus shows his pride when he gets angry at Tiresias. Tiresias hints that Oedipus should look within himself for the cause of the plague. This infuriates Oedipus. Proudly, he reminds Tiresias that he alone solved the riddle of the sphinx with his own intellect:

So tell me, when are you the wise seer? (410) 
How is it that, when the singing hound was here, 
you never said how the citizens might be freed? 
Even though the riddle could not be solved by 
the first man who met it, but required prophecy. 
But you did not come forth with this, knowing some clue (415) 
from birds or gods; instead I came along, 
the idiot Oedipus! I stopped her, 
working from intellect, not learning from birds.

Clearly, Oedipus is making fun of Tiresias' profession as a seer or prophet. He ridicules Tiresias as he sarcastically makes a mockery of the seer using birds signs as omens while gaining insight. Truly, Oedipus is critical of Tiresias. Rather than considering that Tiresias may know something he doesn't know, Oedipus insults Tiresias, calling him a "sightless, witless, senseless, mad old man."

Ultimately, Oedipus proves he is prideful when he blinds himself. He can not bear to look at himself nor does he desire to see what others are seeing in him. He would rather spend his days in blindness, hoping the fulfillment of the terrible prophecy will just vanish from his sight.     

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Oedipus Rex

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