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The Incarnation of the Theory of Tragedy in Oedipus Rex

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Oedipus' character is labyrinthine in the sense that it raises controversies; many readers and critics might look at Oedipus as a hero who is doomed to his tragic end by misfortune and fate rather than by his tragic flaws. At first blush, this looks like a drawback that is enough to render the play inappropriate for an original model of the theory of tragedy. However, as a matter of fact Sophocles' plays contribute much to the formation of the ground on which the theory of tragedy is based. Actually Aristotle lays the foundations for the critical study of drama in his Poetics by drawing on Sophocles' plays most of the time, especially on Oedipus Rex. It is a fact clearly evident from this contextual standpoint that Oedipus Rex and consequently Oedipus, the hero of the play, serve as the most original incarnation--typical example--of the theory of tragedy. So the point now is whether or not Oedipus' has a multi-dimensional and controversial character does not alter the validity of the aforementioned fact, that Oedipus Rex is a model tragedy, simply because of three reasons: First, Oedipus still retains much of the characteristics of tragic heroes, like his noble origin and also position, goodness especially as a king, tragic flaws and irreversible mistakes. Second, the issue of fate, on which the controversiality of Oedipus is based, is to be taken from a special perspective where the age of mythology is taken into consideration. Third, if we are to admit that Oedipus' tragic end is doomed by fate, then this will functionally enrich the play as a tragedy rather than devaluate it.

Oedipus is endowed mostly all tragic characteristics that qualify him for a model tragic hero. He is the son of the queen Iokaste and King Laios, whi...

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...milarly, if we take Oedipus' downfall as fated, the tragic value of the play will be enriched since the Catharsis will be intensified. Catharsis means the evocation of two elements in the spectators: pity and fear. A natural audience has more pity for a man whose tragic end is to a great extent fateful rather than for a man whose bad deeds bring about his downfall. Intensifying pity means a Catharsis with a stronger effect and naturally a bonus for the success of the play since achieving Catharsis is a major purpose of any tragedy.

Finally, Oedipus Rex sets out the foundation of the theory of tragedy. However, whether or not some readers and critics well identify with Oedipus as a tragic hero will not change this fact. Oedipus Rex as a model tragedy that outlives Sophocles will continue to be the typical example to be referred to whenever tragedy is discussed.
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