What makes Oedipus the King a tragedy? i.e. how do the features of tragedy coincide with Oedipus the King (giving direct examples from the text)I am studying for my yearly exams which focus on the...

What makes Oedipus the King a tragedy?

i.e. how do the features of tragedy coincide with Oedipus the King (giving direct examples from the text)

I am studying for my yearly exams which focus on the theme of Tragedy and Oedipus the King is one of our related texts. I am having a little difficulty, though, in linking the features of tragedy to Oedipus.

 

Thankyou!

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In analyzing Oedipus' conditions of tragedy, there are several elements at play.  The first would be that Oedipus is tragically human.  His own sense of pride is a tragic flaw that allows him to believe that he can transcend his own sense of fate.  This belief sows the seeds of his own destruction in his rejection of the prophecy that surrounds him, his banishment of Tiresias, as well as the notion that he, a mortal, can outrun his own sense of destiny.  Another element of tragedy which surrounds Oedipus is that he is not malevolent or evil.  He acts with the insight to protect his kingdom, as well as the belief of being an inherently good man.  He commits the murder of Laius, unaware of his implications, and this pattern of ignorance follows his sleeping with his wife/ mother, Jocasta.  There is little by way of manipulation, scheming cruelty, or deceit in Oedipus, yet he suffers the worst of fates when his entire existence is called into question.  Another element of tragedy involved here would be the evolution and change that Oedipus must endure in understanding his own sense of identity.  The change he underwent allows him to embrace the full scope of tragic conditions because of the level of pain and suffering that was endured in the process, reason why his sight at the start of the play led to a greater sense of vision, albeit without eyes, at the end of it.