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Character Analysis on Oedipus in the Play Oedipus the King

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King Oedipus, the main character in Sophocles's play Oedipus the King, reveals to readers as a heedful of others’ needs, clever and persistent ruler. The king is loved and respected by the people of Thebes and his family. Most of his actions are based on noble motives, and it is only Oedipus’ hot temper in his young days which led to the true tragedy and destroyed his happiness.
Oedipus is exceptionally thoughtful towards other people and as far as he was chosen to be the king of Thebes, the man feels all the responsibility that was put upon him. Being a witness of the horrible hardships, the citizens encounter that the king is trying to do all in his power to bring a relief to them. Oedipus is full of compassionate feelings towards the people, “The grief I feel for these citizens is even greater than any pain I feel for my own life” (Sophocle). That is why he demonstrates such a persistence in finding out the secret of Laius death that, when is unraveled, will set free the city from the gods’ curse. Even when his loving wife, Jocasta, begs him in the name of their family happiness to stop investigating the peculiarities of the case (Sophocle), nothing can prevent him from meeting his engagement of king.


The responsibility is not the only positive feature of Oedipus as a leader. He was given the privilege to become a king not because of good fortune but as a result of his braveness and bright mind. Oedipus successfully solved Sphinx riddle and set free the citizens from the monstrous creature. As a reward for his courage and mind, he got the kingdom and the queen, wife of his. Oedipus is very confident in the strength of his mind and the fact that much time has passed since the previous king of Thebes died cannot be a serious obstacle on his way to find out the truth. “Then I will start afresh, and once again shed light on darkness” (Sophocle), says Oedipus with confidence when getting down to the tangled case without even suspecting what unbearable grief the truth will bring to him and his family.

Such a shrewd and noble ruler excites positive feelings. That is why the horrible mistake he did in youth and the suffering of its consequences he bears in the end of the story makes a reader feel really sorry for him and even consider this fate to be unjust for the man. However, the fact is that he killed a traveler when the latter blocked his way and his hot temper played a malicious trick on him. Oedipus’ hastiness caused his father’s death, and that is the feature of his character which still remains with him. Creon, his friend and brother of his wife, says about Oedipus, “You are obstinate, obviously unhappy to concede and when you lose your temper, you go too far. But men like that find it most difficult to tolerate themselves” (Sophocle). The king’s obstinacy can be clearly traced at the beginning of the play when firstly he blames Creon for talking slanderously about him and secondly when Oedipus demands Teiresias to reveal everything he knows concerning the mysterious death of Laius. “You blame my temper”, says the old man, “but you do not see the one which lives within you” (Sophocle). As we can see, this hot temper of Oedipus results in many problems in his life.

Despite the strange bounds and the horrible secret that connects Oedipus and his true family, the king demonstrates himself as a very good and caring father. For instance, when all the truth reveals to him, Oedipus does everything possible to protect his children although they were born in sin. “My poor daughters have never known my dining table placed away from them or lacked their father’s presence…So take care of them for me” (Sophocle), the king asks Creon for his children. He realizes quite well what hardships his children will encounter in the future and what shame he brought to their lives. Oedipus does not blame anyone else except himself for the tragedy happened. The king is aware that it is him who has put his family and city into such a terrible situation so the citizens are tortured with plague and his family with the shame. Oedipus punishes himself physically and emotionally. He wants to be driven away from Thebes, he needs to suffer for everything he has done, “Hurry now, my friends, lead me away from Thebes – take me somewhere, a man completely lost, utterly accursed…” (Sophocle). He became blind and broken man, but he does not escape from his punishment, he endures everything with all the strength left and repents his sins.

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