The Role Of Hamartia in “Oedipus Rex” is very important. In his famous book “poetics” Aristotle very clearly explains the concept of “Hamartia”. He, first of all talks about the characteristics of an ideal hero. According to him, an ideal hero is a man of towering personality, a man of noble family who is highly respected and is prosperous in society. Such a kind of man falls down because of his flaw in his character. Aristotle defines flaw in one’s personality as hamartia which actually means of error of Judgement which the hero commits consciously or unconsciously.

Aristotle gives the example of Oedipus whose hamartia is responsible for his fall. This interpretation differs from reader to reader and critic to critic. As it is said that Oedipus is. proud and overconfident, he thinks that whatever he thinks is absolutely right; that’s why, he gives no heed to any one’s suggestion. He becomes suspicious against Teiresias and Creon unjustly. Oedipus has committed incest and parricide and for these sins, he is punished by gods for his illegality.

Some critics are of the view that gods punish & penalize him for his unsound character but chorus does not believe in it & it disregards the blames against him which are applied by Teiresias. The chorus regards & considers Oedipus to be a man of nobility & virtue.

As Aristotle considers hamartia an offence which is committed in ignorance of some fact and therefore free from wickedness or vice. Aristotle gives an example of Thyestes, a man who eats his own children’s flesh in the belief that it is ‘an ordinary meat & afterwards, he is responsible for begetting a child from his daughter in complete ignorance. Same is the case with Oedipus who whatever heinous crime he commits, he commits it with any out intention.

Whatever it may be, after all, these both men violate the laws of nature unknowingly & unintentionally and their tragic punishments make them fit & suitable subjects for tragedy. Most of the critics of Sophocles now agreed that Oedipus is morally innocent. He was a victim of his fate and he had become a puppet in the hands of fortune & the doom that overtook him.

The deep analysis of this drama proves that it is a tragedy of destiny or fate. But, it is also our belief that everything is not only governed in one’s life by fate but Allah has also bestowed authority of choosing wrong & right to man. It is very clear that Oedipus’ blindness is self-committed and voluntary. He was fated to commit parricide and incest but it is very right that some of the action, he committed by fate but he is also free to do every thing freely.

Even, the divine predictions are executed by his own actions. As a prominent critic says, the gods know the future, but they do not order it. There are also some factors which are related to his character which are also responsible for his tragic end of life and these are his anger, rashness and suspicion which certainly affect him. If Oedipus had not expressed anger with Teiresias then he might not have made the predictions and the end of his life might have been another one.

To conclude this topic, The Role Of Hamartia in Oedipus Rex, we can say that Oedipus is one of the legendary characters of classical literature who was greatly favourite with the tragic dramatists. In all the Greek heroes, he was’one of the most striking characters. As far as his hamartia is concerned, which are his rashness and anger; and which are defects in his personality which ultimately bring about his tragic consequences.

It is his rashness which made him slay his own father, though he did not know the identity of him. His unwise judgments and decisions also add to his tragedy. In spite of all these, Oedipus’ character leaves an unforgettable impression on the readers’ minds. We have a great admiration for his relentless pursuit of truth and reality but at the same time, we try to share our sympathies with him because he is a victim of irony of fate and circumstances.


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