What is tragic hero's misperception in Oedipus Rex?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Central to the tragedy of Oedipus Rex is the character's figurative blindness, his failure to perceive correctly his tie of kinship to the murder of Laius in his effort to find and punish the murderer of the former king of Thebes in order to end the calamities that have beset the citizens.  When the seer Teiresias tells Oedipus that the man that he searches for is in Thebes and is a Theban, not a foreigner, Oedipus accuses Creon of having plotted to kill him in order to steal his throne.  But, Creon explains that he has already power, and it is a better power than that of being king because he possesses this might without the worry of "a king's anxieties."

Ironically, the name of Oedipus means both "swollen foot" and "I think I know," indicating the misconceptions of the king.  In order to end the dilemma of the people of Thebes, he must discover himself and realize that the feet swollen are the very feet upon which stands the true murderer of Laius. Thus, Oedipus in his hubris has both the misperception of believing that Creon wishes to usurp his throne and the great misinterpretation of the words of the blind Tireisias that lead him to believe that he is not the one guilty of bringing the plague upon Thebes as the murderer of Laius.

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