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Aristotelian Tragedy Essay

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Aristotelian Tragedy


One may argue that the Greek playwright, Sophocles modeled his play Oedipus Rex on Aristotle's definition and analysis of tragedy. Since according to Aristotle's definition, a tragedy is an imitation of action that is serious, complete and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished artistic ornaments, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not narrative with incidents that evokes pity and fear of a persons emotions. Also Aristotle identified the basic six parts a tragedy as being plot, character, thought, melody, diction and spectacle which he considered the least important. Therefore the controversy of Sophocles modeling his play Oedipus Rex on Aritotle's analysis of tragedy can be argued out since the play Oedipus Rex is a classic Aristotelian tragedy. However this conception is totally fallacious since it is a well known fact that Aristotle lived a century after Sophocles.
According to Aristotle's explanation of character, a basic element in every tragedy, he defines character as what makes as "ascribe certain moral qualities to agents" ( Sophocles 240). The issue of character is evident in the protagonist, King Oedipus, in the play Oedipus Rex. Using King Oedipus in the play as an ideal model it can be deduced that he is very rash and makes very hasty decisions. For example his rashness can be seen from manner in which he pronounces judgement on the person responsible for the plague of the city of Thebes after Creon returns from consulting with the Delphic Oracle. He pronounces judgement on no other person but himself since he is the cause of all the city's woes. His hastiness can also be seen in the manner in which he forces Teiresias to rev...


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...ee Oedipus about his fear of parentage actually does the opposite. Suffering which is also a part of an Aristotelian tragedy is show in how Oedipus ends up miserable in the end as a poor blind man
The other three elements of tragedy as defined by Aristotle that is Melody, Diction and Spectacle can all be traced in the play. With regards to Melody Sophocles makes the chorus know the story line of the play hence making it very easy for the audience to understand the play. Diction that is the style of Oedipus and spectacle which includes the visual effects and stage appearance makes the audience appreciate the play wholeheartedly.
Therefore from the manner in which the Sophocles' play Oedipus Rex contains all the six basic elements of poetics: plot, character, melody, diction, thought and spectacle, Oedipus Rex can be described as a classic Aristotelian Targedy.


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