Oedipus Rex by Sophocles is a tragic drama set in Thebes, Greece about Oedipus the king. Although Oedipus starts off as a good man, loved by his people, it doesn’t take long until he loses their trust because he runs from and denies his fate from the Gods. Oedipus is a good man from the beginning of the play. He cares about his city and he wants to help his people however, once Oedipus became too arrogant his flaws became evident. It wasn’t until Oedipus ran from his fate that his fate came true. By denying the truth and searching deeper for an answer, Oedipus discovered his true fate and exiled himself. Oedipus Rex is play to teach people that one cannot deny his or her own fate.
Oedipus is a good man from the beginning of the play. Thebes has been in a curse for quite a while now and the people of the city come to their king and ask Oedipus to help them. He is the closest thing to God in their minds and they are sure that their king will make things right. Oedipus cares about his people and replies, “You can trust me. I am ready to help, I’ll do anything. I would be blind to misery not to pity my people kneeling at my feet.” (p.159 lines 13-15) Oedipus knows that he needs to help his people and so he asks for their trust to show them that he can make things better. This suggests good leadership and since he is a good leader he is seen as a good man. However, Sophocles uses subtle hints to show the audience that Oedipus has flaws. First of these flaws is Oedipus’ arrogance. When his people come for advice Oedipus does seem to glorify himself in more than one way, “Here I am myself- you all know me, the world knows my fame: I am Oedipus.” (p. 159 lines 6-10) Oedipus clearly thinks highly of himself which is not necessarily a bad thing except for he is a leader and a leader must think of his people before himself. He uses personal pronouns such as “I, myself, and me,” too much and this is first where the audience sees his arrogance. Later in the play, Oedipus compares himself to the Gods. This is a disastrous mistake because in the Greek culture the Gods are worshipped for being better than the humans. Before Oedipus gives his speech a town person says, “You cannot equal the gods, your children know that.” (p. 161 lines 39-40) Later Oedipus replies, “You pray to the Gods? Let me grant your prayers.” (p. 171 line 275) Again the audience sees Oedipus’ fatal flaw of being too arrogant. He thinks that he has the answers but it isn’t until later when he finds the truth that it is too late to take back his arrogance.
This arrogance leads to Oedipus to believe that he can run from his fate, but it isn’t until Oedipus runs from his fate that his fate comes true. Oedipus was born under a prophecy that he would kill his father and take his mother to be his wife. His mother and father, mortified by this prophecy exiled him from the Thebes. However, Oedipus lived. The king and queen of a nearby city, Corinne, took him in. When he grew up he heard news of this prophecy and instead of accepting it like he was supposed to do to respect the Gods, Oedipus thought that he could change his fate and so he ran away from his parents. On his way, running away from Corrine, he ran into a group of men and killed all but one. One of the men that he killed was the king of Thebes, his true father. If Oedipus had not been so arrogant and though that he could outsmart the Gods, he would not have ran to kill his father at that time. Oedipus’ arrogance led to his killing his father and as he went on he met up with the newly widowed queen, his mother, and took her for his wife. Without knowing it Oedipus led to the prophecy coming true and although it is impossible to tell what