Transformation of the Tragedy in Oedipus, King Lear, and Desire Under The Elms
4722 Words19 Pages
Transformation of the Tragedy in Oedipus Rex, King Lear, and Desire Under The Elms
Over the course of time, many things tend to transform significantly. Such is the case of tragic literature and the cathartic effect it has on the reader, which has deteriorated a great deal from Sophocles' writing of the true tragedy, Oedipus Rex. King Lear exemplifies partial decomposition of catharsis, whereas Desire Under The Elms epitomises an almost total collapse of the cathartic effect. It is assumed that the lower the social status of the tragic hero, the weaker the ability of the 1990's audience to identify with the character's flaw. The term 'identify' refers to the ability to relate to the situation or idea. The lower social status of the protagonist in Desire Under The Elms allows a weaker level of reader identification than that experienced in King Lear or Oedipus Rex, which is made evident by examining stages two and three of catharsis.
The lower social status of the protagonist in Desire Under The Elms allows a lower level of reader identification than that experienced in King Lear or Oedipus Rex which is made evident by examining stage two of catharsis. The classic tragedy, Oedipus Rex tells the story of the King of Thebes, Oedipus, who foolishly tries to challenge fate and evade a prophecy which proclaimed that he would murder his father and marry his mother. When trying to free Thebes of a plague, he discovers that the prophecy had, in fact, come true and he did murder his father and marry his mother. According to Aristotle, there are three main elements in the second stage of catharsis (The Cathartic Moment) which include the tragic hero's point of greatest misery, the fall of shields which protected him from an ultimate truth about himself, as well as the hero's moment of enlightenment. The play Oedipus Rex displays the three elements of the cathartic moment almost perfectly. Oedipus' point of greatest misery occurs after he realizes that the prophecy had come true and he discovers that his wife, Jocosta has hung herself in her bridal-room after she finds that Oedipus was her son. A messenger tells the chorus of the incident in the following quote:
She died by her own hand....cried to her husband Laius in the grave, with mention of that seed whereby he sowed death for himself, and left her a son to get her fresh children, shamefully.