Pride Analysis of "Oedipus the King" "Pride Essay

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Analysis of "Oedipus the King"

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18, NIV)

Pride is a destructive force that has been recognized as such since the beginning of recorded time. People are subject to it because, as generally selfish creatures, humans put themselves above others. Of course, as a person matures he or she will usually lose much of this me first attitude, at least publicly, but it remains in part because it is difficult to completely deny self. This undeniable fact, that pride does indeed precede, a fall is evidenced by many ancient writings one of the most profound and remembered being the story of Oedipus. He was a king who could not let a simple matter end, and the result was that he lost almost all that had been given to him. The story can easily be analyzed based on the Fitzgerald quote that "man is vulnerable only in his pride, but delicate as Humpty-Dumpty once that is meddled with." This paper looks at the question of pride in relation to the before, during and after discovery stages of the story (some of which must be gleaned from earlier accounts).

Before Discovery

Oedipus led a relatively charmed life from the time of his birth until he discovered the true nature of that birth. It may not seem so at first because he was ordered to be killed based on the word of an oracle (much like a prophet). The king could not do it, so he gave the job to his wife who, in turn, gave it to a servant. None of these three could kill the baby, but the servant did leave Oedipus on the side of a mountain to die of exposure. But this was not his predicted fate so "a shepherd found the babe and tended him, and delivered him to another shepherd who took him to his master, the King of Corinth" (1). In this first part of the narrative it is difficult to account for any pride on the part of Oedipus because he was the victim of attempted infanticide, and he did not know who his real parents were. One point of pride can be seen though in his dogged pursuit of the truth. He would not listen to anyone else and continued to pursue what he thought to be the truth until he unwittingly fulfilled the first part of the prophecy by "slaying his father Laius" (2).


The in which Oedipus discovers the cause of the plague on his land and the fact that he is the cause of it opens with Creon, Oedipus' uncle whom he believes to be only his brother-in-law, reporting that the oracle has pronounced the judgment that has befallen the kingdom. Throughout the scene Oedipus is trying to discover why a plague has descended upon Thebes, which he rules. The pride that Oedipus demonstrates throughout the discovery phase of his story is shown again in the dogged determination he demonstrates. He does not want to let go of the possibility of what the oracle had told him earlier. The oracle told Creon where the suffering is coming from. He says "He [Laius] fell; and now the god's command is plain: Punish his takers-off, whoe'er they be" (10). So, Oedipus decides, as a good king should, that he has to pursue the miscreant who killed the former king and caused the plague not knowing it is himself. The king is prideful, as a king will be, due to his position, but also due to the fact that he is seeking to right an injustice and erase from his memory what the oracle told him. Hi single-minded pursuit of the killer probably has two reasons attached to it. First, Oedipus is a good king, but, second, he also wants to make sure that he is able…

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Work Cited

Sophocles. Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King). Trans E.H. Plumptre. Stilwell, KS: Publishing, 2005. Web.

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