In Oedipus Rex (or Oedipus the King), how does Oedipus show pride?

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King Oedipus displays his pride by believing that he can triumph over his fate and establish his own destiny despite the gods' ultimate design. Oedipus is unaware of his background and does not know that Polybus and Merope were his adopted parents. As a young man, Oedipus learns of the...

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King Oedipus displays his pride by believing that he can triumph over his fate and establish his own destiny despite the gods' ultimate design. Oedipus is unaware of his background and does not know that Polybus and Merope were his adopted parents. As a young man, Oedipus learns of the prophecy that he will one day murder his father and marry his mother, which motivates him to flee Corinth and travel to Thebes. Oedipus's attempt to avoid his fate illustrates his pride. He naively believes that he is smart enough to outwit the gods and prevent his destiny from coming to fruition.

In addition to attempting to avoid his destiny and outsmart the gods, Oedipus also reveals his pride during his interaction with the blind seer Teiresias. Initially, Teiresias gives Oedipus a cryptic answer when he is questioned about Laius's murderer. Oedipus proceeds to insult Teiresias, who finally tells Oedipus that he is the murderer. Oedipus responds by accusing Teiresias of colluding with Creon and proceeds to criticize him for not being able to solve the Sphinx's riddle. Oedipus once again demonstrates his pride by saying:

"But then I came, Oedipus, who knew nothing. Yet I finished her [the Sphinx] off, using my wits rather than relying on birds. That’s the man you want to overthrow, hoping, no doubt, to stand up there with Creon, once he’s king" (Sophocles, 448–452).

Oedipus is taking full credit for solving the mystery of the Sphinx and bragging about his prophetic abilities, which emphasizes his pride. He also believes that he is more talented and intelligent than the blind seer Teiresias. The irony is that Oedipus is too blind to realize that he could not avoid his fate and is responsible for Laius's death.

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One way in which Oedipus shows his immense pride is in his belief that he could somehow escape the prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. The news of this fate, delivered by the oracle at Delphi, would, the ancient Greeks believed, have come directly from the gods, namely Apollo, the god most concerned with prophecy. For Oedipus to think that he can escape a prophecy dictated to him by the mouthpiece of a god is evidence of his pride because it shows that he thinks he can outsmart the gods. His hubris is terrible indeed. Oedipus believes that if he simply doesn't return home to Corinth, he cannot possibly kill his father and marry his mother, who he believes to live there. He is too proud to realize that there might be things he doesn't know, for example, that Polybus and Merope are his adopted parents and that his biological parents, Laius and Jocasta, are from Thebes, where he now decides to go. In trying to outsmart the gods, Oedipus actually makes it possible for the prophecy to occur—an ironic consequence of his pride.

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The overwhelming sense of pride is apparent through much of the play.  Oedipus' fundamental belief that he can overcome his fate through his exercise of free reflects this pride.  The faith in his freedom and disregard for its limitations is reflective of Oedipus' pride.  He believes that his fate will not apply to him, discarding the input of Tiresias and the idea that his journey to cure his people could come at drastic costs.  The fact that he kills what turns out to be his father over such a small slight on the road reflects this pride, as well.  Undeniably, Oedipus is responsible for some fairiy impressive feats.  He is seen as a powerful ruler and through solving the riddle of the Sphinx, Oedipus has reason to possess some pride.  Yet, in the final analysis, his sense of ego is what ends up dooming him, reconciling him to the fact that his fate cannot be overcome.

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