Oedipus Rex


Oedipus began Oedipus Rex as a king, only to end the tale as a blinded
beggar. Oedipus' fall from his kingly status was not by accident or
because of some other person. Oedipus is the only one that can be blamed
for his misfortune. Oedipus' character traits are shown most clearly
during his spiralling downfall, thinking he is "a simple man, who knows
nothing", yet knowing more than he realizes by the end of the story.

Throughout the story, Oedipus' haste or lack of patience is most
evident. Wishing to end this mystery of the death of Laios as quickly as
possible, Oedipus passes an edict to kill or exile anyone who withholds
information. Teiresias tested Oedipus' patience in the beginning of the
story with the information he was holding; "You'd try a stone's patience!
Out with it.". This impatient accusing of Teiresias proved to be bad,
especially since Teiresias foretold the ending of the story. If Oedipus
had been more patient and waited, he might have not been quite so upset
about the future, nor shaken up about what was to happen.

However, that one trait did not alone take away his position of high
authority. Oedipus displayed anger throughout the whole story, which did
not help him at all. During the story, we learn of Oedipus' anger as he
knocked a passerby at the meeting of the three highways; "I struck him in
my rage". Later, this passerby whom he angrily and quickly killed, was
revealed to be Laios, Oedipus' father. Oedipus' anger also quickly
shifted his judgement of Teiresias. "We are in your[Teiresias] hands.
There is no fairer duty", Oedipus' respect for Teiresias quickly changed as
Teiresias refused to tell of what was the trouble's cause. Oedipus began
claiming that "Creon has brought this decrepit fortune teller" to mean that
Teiresias was thought of as a traitor in Oedipus' thinking. Oedipus' anger
is also shown as he begins to insult Teiresias by calling him a "wicked old
man". Oedipus' anger throughout the beginning of the play hindered
himself.

The final trait that was Oedipus' greatest enemy throughout the
entirity of the play was his own truthfulness. Whenever new facts
presented themselves, Oedipus gave them an honest look. As soon as it was
suspect that Oedipus was involved, he acknowledged it; "I think that I
myself may be accurst by my own ignorant edict". Oedipus never held back
any evidence pointing to his possible future eviction and loss of his
kingly status. As the plot grew to the uppermost point, Oedipus persisted
testimony of the shepherd as he was "of dreadful hearing, yet he must hear"
more. This trait was the binding trait that brought Oedipus' downfall. If
Oedipus hid all the facts concerning himself, he could have easily buried
this as nobody would know that he killed his father nor slept with his
mother.

The decline of Oedipus' was started by himself. His traits of anger,
haste, and truthfulness, each helped accelerate his decline of power.
Unfortuanately, for Oedipus, this decline of power led to the plucking of
his own eyes. "Oedipus, noblest of all the line of Kadmos, have condemned
myself to enjoy these things no more, by my own malediction, expelling that
man whom the gods declared to be a defilement in the house of Laios."