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Use of Character Flaws and Literary Devices to Teach Morals in Oedipus Rex

Use of Character Flaws and Literary Devices to Teach Morals in Oedipus Rex

The Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex is an excellent example of how an author can use literary techniques and personality traits to teach a certain moral or theme. In Oedipus Rex, Sophocles communicates his themes and morals to the reader through the character flaws of Oedipus, a tragic hero.

The most prominent character flaw that Oedipus possesses is his excessive arrogance. One way this flaw is displayed is Oedipus’ repeated use of the pronoun “I”. In lines sixty seven through eighty alone, Oedipus uses the word “I” eight times, projecting his haughty personality. “I have found one helpful course, and that I have taken: I have sent Creon…to Delphi…” states Oedipus as he describes what action he has taken to help the people of Thebes recover from there ill state (70-73). This quote is just one of the many that exhibit Oedipus’ pride through the over use of the pro-noun “I”.

Another example of Oedipus’ hubris is the way he speaks in a condescending tone to who ever he may be speaking to. “I have sent Creon…to Delphi, Apollo’s place of revelation to learn there, if he can, what act or pledge of mine may save the city” (74-77). In these lines Oedipus suggest that Creon is inferior to him by stating, “if he can”(77). Oedipus often indicates, as he does here, that people other than himself are insolent and incapable of completing tasks correctly. He also indicates in the above quote that he, the all mighty Oedipus, is the only person who could possible save the city of Thebes by saying, “what act or pledge of mine may save the city” (75). This extreme arrogance, demonstrated through patronizing speech, is apparent throughout the en…

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…tions of Oedipus Rex, edited by Michael J. O’Brien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Jevons, Frank B. “In Sophoclean Tragedy, Humans Create Their Own Fate.” In Readings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997.

Murray, Robert D. Jr. “Sophocles’ Moral Themes.” In Readings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997.

“Sophocles” In Literature of the Western World, edited by Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. NewYork: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1984.

Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Transl. by F. Storr. no pag. new?tag=public

The Mask of Hamlet

The Mask of Hamlet

When people put on a mask or costume it is usually because they are trying to hide themselves or portray a certain feeling to onlookers. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet puts on a “antic disposition” as a strategy to get closer to Claudius. Hamlet tells his friends this by saying (I,iv,170-173) “how strange or odd some’er I bear myself (As I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition on), That you, at such times seeing me, never shall, with arms encumb’red thus, or this head-shake, or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,” Hamlet’s strategy is successful at the beginning in that he is able to fool Ophilia, Gertrude, Polonius and Claudius but as the play proceeds Polonius and Claudius began to see that there is logic behind his madness and actions. Toward the end Hamlets strategy becomes a tragic error when he begins to act solely on emotion instead of logic. In doing so he makes the mistake of killing Polonius instead of Claudius. Claudius then realizes that it would have been him dead instead of Polonius if he had been there. This scares Claudius in to trying to get rid of Hamlet any way he can. This explains the old saying “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

Hamlet’s reason for putting on his antic disposition is that he wants to fool Claudius into believing that he is fanatical and is no threat to him physically or to his anarchy. The reason for doing this is that Claudius secretly killed Old Hamlet, who was king to gain the thrown for himself. Hamlet after conversing with the ghost of his dead father learns that Claudius killed his father and swears revenge on Claudius. By Hamlet putting o…

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…we mourn for” Claudius was not fooled for very long but at first he was sorry for, and was trying to help his past nephew now son get rid of his madness.

In conclusion Hamlet’s plan did exactly what it was supposed to allow him to do. Hamlet shows really well the natural reaction to stressful situations by which he acts through emotion not logic. Hamlet would have been a exeptional king because of his logical thinking, but a short lived king because of his inability to act upon it.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Bloom, Harold. Modern Critical Interpretations Of Hamlet. New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.

Charney, Maurice. All of Shakespeare. New York, NY. Columbia University Press. 1993.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The Riverside Shakespeare. ED. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Haughton Mifflin Company, 1974.

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