Honestly, I was excited to read this story and see how everything was going to unfold. I figured this one would be juicy, given Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother, so I wanted to see how he justified everything. I love stories that have crazy, sometimes uncomfortable plots like this one. But I guess that is the point of tragedy right? And with my longing to hear how stories like this unfold, I fit right into its intended audience. Let's look at how this fits the bill of a tragedy.
To begin, Oedipus brings about his own suffering in this tragedy, although not intentionally. When he was young, it was prophesied that he would kill his father, and marry his mother. To avoid this, Oedipus runs off, not knowing his real parents gave him up because of this same fear. While he is away, he ends up killing a man he finds on the road. This man ends up being the king of Thebes, Laius, and ends up marrying his wife Jocasta,. Although nobody knew any of this information at the time. As time goes on, Oedipus, the (new) King of Thebes, finds out the only way to lift the curse set upon the town is to find the killer of the previous king. This sets Oedipus on a quest that will tell him more than he ever expected to know. He eventually finds a blind prophet who tells him that he was in fact the one who killed Laius. This snowballs, and everything comes to light. Jocasta, and Laius are Oedipus' real parents. In all of his efforts to avoid the prophecy, Oedipus ran himself right in the center of it.
The ending shows the true tragedy in all of this. Once the truth is out Jocasta hangs herself. She does this out of shame for being with her son, and grief for what once was. When Oedipus finds her, he gouges his own eyes out to punish himself for what he had done.
This is all very tragic, and unfortunately was all caused by mistake. Although that is one element of a tragedy. The worst things happen by mistake, all because the main character didn't see or understand the other side of the story. Oedipus was blind to the truth, and in the end literally blinded himself for what he had done. I think that this story is a good example of what a tragedy truly is, mistakes, misunderstandings, poor judgement, and lessons. Sophocles portrayed all of these things in Oedipus, and made it a truly interesting story along the way.