In Oedipus at Colonus, Polynices represents the son who wishes to reconcile with his father for self-serving reasons. Wily and somewhat shameless, Polynices dares to compare himself with his father, Oedipus, as a fellow outcast — this, despite the fact that Polynices is in part responsible for Oedipus' banishment. The gall of this argument marks Polynices as an opportunist and his ill-fated plan as a simple grab for power.
In contrast to his father, Polynices displays an ability to disregard Fate in favor of his own will. In throwing himself into the plans for the invasion of Thebes despite his father's curse and Antigone's warning, he shows a reckless ambition that compromises both his character and his goal. As the enemy of the villainous Creon, Polynices should emerge as a kind of hero, yet his own arrogance precludes this, and makes him instead a deeply flawed, doomed son and brother of a fate-stricken house.