How does Oedipus' character struggle in between extremes of prosperity and misfortune?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The original question had to be edited down.  Part of what makes Oedipus' characterization so powerful is that it shows the extremes within which human being operate.  Oedipus recognizes himself within his own tragic flaw as one who had done great things.  Solving the riddle of the Sphinx, assuming leadership of Thebes, and being a ruler that is concerned with the welfare of his people are reflections of his own sense of greatness.  In trying to understand why the people of Thebes suffer, Oedipus recalls his own greatness and his own capacity for the great things he has done and come to represent.  The very idea of his misfortune is something that is inconceivable with all of the good he has done.  He cannot envision that, in fact, the prophecy and the blind seer are both right in that his own sensibilities of greatness and prosperity operates within a configuration of misfortune.  It is here where Oedipus lives, to a great extent.  He lives at the points where a great individual must reconcile with the fact that forces greater and with more magnitude than himself are in control.  For Oedipus, it is this process of learning how to struggle with such a challenging condition that makes his narrative so compelling.  Learning how to live in between the extremes of prosperity and misfortune, learning that the presence of the former does not eliminate the necessity of the latter is where his evolution lies.