what is the strengths and weaknesses of oedipus as a man as a ruler and as a husband?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In terms of Oedipus's strengths, he is decisive and intuitive. Even before the play begins, prior to his being approached by the Priest of Zeus and the Chorus, he has sent his brother-in-law (and uncle), Creon, to the oracle of Delphi to ask for help in alleviating the suffering of the people of Thebes. He is, evidently, a thoughtful king who cares deeply and earnestly for the people over which he rules. One might also describe him as merciful and just. In the search for whomever killed Laius, the former king (and Oedipus's father), Oedipus offers the killer exile, as punishment, rather than death: this seems like a mercy. He also says that anyone who shields the identity of this killer will be subject to punishment as well: this seems just.

Oedipus also has many weaknesses. His pride is the foremost of these, but he also has a quick temper and a tendency to behave rashly. Long before the play began, he heard the oracle's warning that he would kill his father and marry his mother. He proudly decided that he would simply not return home to Corinth, where he'd been raised by parents who adopted him (though he did not know this for sure), and this way he would not be able to fulfill the prophecy. However, the oracle is the mouthpiece of Apollo, and, in thinking that he could simply avoid the god's prophecy, he displayed tremendous pride. The gods never appreciate when mortals think they can outwit the immortals. Oedipus also becomes enraged by Teiresias, the blind prophet for whom he sent, when Teiresias tries to protect Oedipus from the truth of his own identity (and his incestuous relationship with his mother and wife, Jocasta). Oedipus finally accuses him of plotting with Creon, and he has absolutely no evidence whatsoever, besides his own anger and paranoia.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

King Oedipus has many strengths as a ruler and is portrayed as a responsible, just monarch, who vows to find the murderer of King Laius when he initially learns from Creon that the plague will not be lifted until the murderer is expelled from Thebes. King Oedipus is also depicted as a discerning man, who values truth. King Oedipus cares about his subjects and reputation as a respected king, which is why he earnestly seeks out the truth to end the plague. As a man, Oedipus demonstrates the positive qualities of determination, integrity, responsibility, and empathy. Unfortunately, his thirst for truth and desire to escape his fate eventually result in his downfall. Oedipus is also depicted as a loyal, compassionate husband, who genuinely cares about Jocasta's well-being. Oedipus's extreme anguish and grief after discovering that Jocasta had committed suicide reveals his love for his wife.

Despite King Oedipus's admirable qualities, he has many weaknesses that lead to his downfall. King Oedipus is depicted as a relatively insecure, arrogant ruler, who is quick to accuse Teiresias of plotting with Creon to seize the throne. As a man, Oedipus is portrayed as overconfident and brash. Oedipus initially fled Corinth in order to alter his fate and confidently believes that he avoided his unfortunate prophecy. The fact that he murdered an unknown man on the road to Thebes also reveals his quick temper. Oedipus's main weakness as a husband is that he is unwilling to take his wife's advice and stop searching for answers. As a result of Oedipus's overconfidence and insistence on finding the truth, he learns that the prophecy was fulfilled, which ruins his life.

cathibee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of Oedipus’ strengths as a King is his self-assurance. This has brought him the powerful position that he finds himself in, being universally respected and loved by his subjects.


However, as a man, this easily morphs into arrogance. This led Oedipus to searching for a resolution to his questions himself, rather than being cautious, as he is advised by numerous others to do. His brash and rushed investigations, however, leads to the fatal discovery and ultimate ruin for the king.


On the other hand, another strength Oedipus achieved as a man and a husband is his sense of responsibility. He takes full responsibility for his family, even at the end, when the extent of his mistake becomes clear. He remains loyal to his family and takes responsibility in the best way he can see available to him, by blinding himself and accepting banishment from his kingdom and all he loves.


Ultimately, Oedipus becomes a sympathetic character because his strenghts outweigh his weaknesses, with courage perhaps being his ultimate strength as a king, a husband, and a man.





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Oedipus Rex

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