Brooks and Heilman wrote Understanding Drama in 1948. Their combined experience and efforts in research of the play, Oedipus Rex, give them the opportunity to become co-authors of their essay. Cederic Whitman, in 1951, also wrote an essay about Oedipus Rex entitled Sophocles: A Study of Heroic Humanism. Being published at Cambridge shows his knowledge and experience. The essays together explain their beliefs of Oedipus as a tragic hero. However, Cecil Bowra, author of Sophoclean Tragedy, published at Oxford in 1945, believes that the role of the gods effects the outcome of Oedipus Rex. Brooks and Heilman plus Whitman combined successfully refute Bowras belief in the role of the gods.
Brooks and Heilman believe that Oedipus is a true tragic hero. They begin to say that Sophocles chose to portray Oedipus as a true tragic hero and an object of fate. Oedipus refused to accept the accusations Teiresias had told him. Oedipus needed proof. Going against the will of the gods, he sought to find the truth. Finding the truth, he can no longer stand himself and gouged out his eyes and asked to be banished. Since he did attempt to fight his fate, instead of running from the accusations, he is a hero for standing tall in his quest for the truth.
Cederic Whitman also believed that Oedipus was a tragic hero. He believed also that Oedipus was not an object of fate, and that standing up for himself made Oedipus a hero. Whitman realized that Oedipus cannot be guilty of the crimes he committed, because he had done so unwittingly. Whitman continues on that the gods cannot be just if Oedipus is morally innocent. To say that the gods helped Oedipus to kill his father and marry his mother is ridiculous. It was Oedipus negligence to the oracle that damned him to his own fall.
Bowra, against Brooks and Heilman and Whitman, believed that the gods played a major role in Oedipus Rex. Bowra believed that Sophocles intended to show the gods at work. He goes on saying that Oedipus is just a parody. The gods humiliated Oedipus to show the people that there is a lesson to be learned. There is indeed a lesson to be learned, but their gods do not exist, therefore the gods are not teaching anyone a lesson. Oedipus was an object of fate, not an object of the gods. Bowra then said that Oedipus blinded himself to make peace with the gods for his past actions. Sophocles established that Oedipus did not believe in the gods. Brooks and Heilman along with Sophocles stated that he blinded himself to save himself from the humiliation of his actions.
Brooks, Heilman, and Whitman all believe that Oedipus is a true tragic hero. Together they successfully refute Bowras belief in the gods. It is true to say that Oedipus is a tragic hero instead of a toy of the gods. With their combined experience, Brooks, Heilman, and Whitman presented a wonderful essay showing that Oedipus is a true tragic hero.