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Oedipus the King, a Tragic Hero Essay

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Oedipus, a tragic hero

Sophocles's Oedipus Rex is probably the most famous tragedy ever written. Sophocles's tragedy represents a monumental theatrical and interpretative challenge. Oedipus Rex is the story of a King of Thebes upon whom a hereditary curse is placed and who therefore has to suffer the tragic consequences of fate (tragic flaws or hamartia). In the play, Oedipus is the tragic hero. 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. Using Oedipus as an ideal model, Aristotle says that a tragic hero must be an important or influential man who commits an error in judgment, and who must then suffer the consequences of his actions. The tragic hero must learn a lesson from his errors in judgment, his tragic flaw, and become an example to the audience of what happens when great men fall from their arrogant social or political positions. According to Aristotle, a tragedy must be an imitation of life in the form of a serious story that is complete in it; in other words, the story must be realistic and narrow in focus. A good tragedy will evoke pity and fear in its viewers, causing the viewers to experience a feeling of catharsis. Catharsis, in Greek, means "purgation" or "purification"; running through the...


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... Oedipus a great tragic hero of classical Greek while Thelma and Louise remained as one of the action play with different meaning of tragedy than Oedipus but still able to get the attention. Therefore, how the human emotions between the characters in two stories as well as the audiences and the character were manipulated by the characters for the same action in different way is shown by both of these stories and so it is very important to theater producers and actors and students like us to continue study and play till this time of 21st century to define the art, life, and theater in better way as well as to understand it in different angle.

Works Cited

Cohen, Robert. Theatre: Brief Version. 6th ed. New York: VonHoffmann, 2003

Milch, Robert J. Cliff Notes on Sophocles'Oedipus The King, Oedipus At Colonus & Antigone, Ed. Gary Carey. Nebraska: Cliff Notes, 1999


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