The Tragedy of Julius Caesar was in fact a tragedy by Aristotle’s definition of tragedy. Aristotle defined tragedy as a tragic hero with a serious flaw leading to their downfall, bringing with it emotions. The events in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar follow Aristotle’s tragedy definition. In the play, Caesar’s character’s belief of self-immortality and ambition to rule Rome in a tyrannical governing form led to his downfall. Brutus also suffered a downfall that would classify him as tragic hero according to Aristotle.
The play “Oedipus Rex”, exemplifies Aristotle’s assertion of a tragic hero by King Oedipus’ explicit flaw of arrogance causing his fall from nobility and high estate. Aristotle’s concept of a tragic hero is woven into the plot of “Oedipus Rex”. The criteria for Aristotle’s concept of a tragic hero is that a protagonist is “fallible” and of “high estate”, typical a noblemen. (Kennedy and Giola 856) Aristotle’s tragic hero concept has defined the art of tragedies since its conception. Along with Aristotle’s concept, the character Oedipus can be further defined as having “a weakness the Greeks called hubris – extreme pride, leading to overconfidence.” (Kennedy and Giola 857) Oedipus exhibits this personality flaw of hubris throughout the play, and it is the hubris tied with arrogance that causes of his tragic fall from nobility.
He said that tragedy was to be told "in a dramatic rather than narrative form, with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish a catharsis of these emotions." Aristotle believed that in every tragedy, the protagonist has a hamartia. A hamartia was a term used by Aristotle to describe the character flaw that would cause the tragic end of an otherwise noble hero. He also believed that in all tragedies, the spectator would pity the protagonist, as they would be led to think that the central character suffers more than they deserve to, during the play. This was known as a catharsis.
The play is strengthened as a tragedy because the audience does not want to be like Oedipus and let their actions determine their destruction. Two lovers took their own lives to avoid the consequences, and in contrast while a man gouged his eyes out to deal with his flaw. Although Romeo and Juliet and Oedipus the King were great tragedies, Oedipus the King contains more of the tragic figures described in Aristotle’s definition. First, the protagonist endured uncommon suffering. Second, the tragic hero recognized the consequences of their actions and took responsibility for them.
Even though fate victimizes Oedipus, he is a tragic figure since his own heroic qualities, his loyalty to Thebes, and his fidelity to the truth ruin him. In The Poetics, the greatest statement of classical dramatic theory, Aristotle cites Oedipus as the best example of Greek tragedy. According to Aristotle, Oedipus is a tragic hero because he is not perfect, but has tragic flaws (hamartia). Aristotle points out that Oedipus' tragic flaw is excessive pride (hubris) and self-righteousness. Aristotle also enlightens certain characteristics that determine a tragic hero.
Oedipus is also a tragic hero as his flaw of quick anger would eventually lead to his demise and exile from Thebes. Oedipus Rex is a great example of a story that can contain a hero’s journey, but yet have a tragic hero.
A major feature of tragedy is the use of a tragic hero. A tragic hero can be defined as the principle character in a tragedy who begins in a position of social importance and who is held in high esteem, but through an error of judgement brings about their own downfall and destruction. In the case of Oedipus the King, this role is fulfilled by Oedipus, who is led by his hamartia (tragic flaw) to do something that ultimately leads to his downfall. Aristotle also outlined the characteristics of a good tragic hero. He must be "better than we ar... ... middle of paper ... ...of the gods, or even their own common sense.
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.
Traditionally, in Greek drama, tragedy is meant to reaffirm the concept that life is worth living and that people are in constant opposition with the universe. Action within Greek tragedies commonly comes from inner conflicts. These actions are also intended to create feelings of pity and fear within an individual (“Greek Theatre History Notes,” 2011). Greek tragedy also holds that the hero of the play, who is a good person yet not perfect, must fall from his or her position of nobility, grace, or power. Additionally, Greek tragedy contends that the audience must experience catharsis after tragic events happen and that the hero is left to face the world by him or herself (“Greek Theatre History Notes”).
In Greek tragedies, tragedians always establish a tragic hero who descends from grace due to a fatal flaw as well as someone who is of nobility. Moreover this character may also experience peripeteia, anagnorisis, and of course, a terrible ending (“Tragic Hero as Defined by Aristotle”). One Greek tragedy that involves a tragic hero is Sophocles’ Antigone which portrays two characters who strive for what they believe in, either state law or divine law, which leads to their demise. These two characters are King Creon and Antigone. The concept of who is the tragic hero in this tragedy is controversial due to the fact that Antigone dies but Creon lives with many deaths upon his shoulders.