Oedipus the King: A Classic Tragedy

analytical Essay
1018 words
1018 words

Oedipus the King, a Classic Tragedy Aristotle, in his work The Poetics, tries to delineate the idea of a tragedy. Throughout his work Aristotle says that the hero, or at least the protagonist in a tragedy must be substantially good, almost godlike. This hero must bring upon themselves their downfall, due to their fatal flaw. If the hero is not at a high point, an audience will not care about them, and won’t notice their fall. One must fall a long way in social class in order for it to be noticed by the outside man. Oedipus perfectly exemplifies a tragedy, in relation to modern society, effectively showing how too much pride can often lead to downfall or doom. Oedipus is a magnificent man. He is also the perfect example of a tragic hero. He solves the riddle of the great sphinx, which leads him to become the king of Thebes. This success suggests both good morals and the intelligence to put these morals to help those he now rules over. This event and morals cause the reader to develop an understanding or connection to Oedipus as a man more than a fictional character. This love for the protagonist is necessary for a tragedy to exist and in Aristotle’s The Poetics it states, “ In order for the audience to experience catharsis, they must believe in the character and be able to identify with him/her. Only then can the fate of that character cause the readers to experience pity, fear, sorrow, and—finally—purging”(Aristotle’s Poetics Summarize). Catharsis is necessary for a true tragedy to exist; these moments can be emotional or even spiritual for the reader. Aristotle is trying to portray that the reader must be able to connect with the protagonist or the catharsis will not be as great. A tragedy characterizes humans as having godl... ... middle of paper ... ...Oedipus blinding himself he is ridding himself of his hubris and rage; he is no longer a threat to those around him. The suffering comes from the act of cutting ones eyes out and having the blood rush out. Oedipus is bound to a life of suffering, he was fated this way from his birth. The human race is subject to a life of suffering; the godlike potential that both Oedipus and the human race have only causes a harder, more tragic, fall. Tragedy lives everywhere, even in the stories of the common man. Because of the inevitability of suffering one should never go out proclaiming happiness. In the final lines of Sophocles’ Oedipus, the chorus states, “calling anybody happy who is mortal until he has passed the last milestone without calamity”(Sophocles ll. 1482-1484). The Tragic world prevents anyone from being judged on a happy prosperous life until they are dead.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how aristotle, in his work the poetics, tries to delineate the idea of a tragedy. he says that the hero must be substantially good, almost godlike.
  • Analyzes how oedipus solves the riddle of the great sphinx, which leads him to become the king of thebes. catharsis is necessary for a true tragedy to exist.
  • Explains that tragic stories offer a sense of learning about the human condition, which is called catharsis.
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