Essay on Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex Fulfills All of the Requirements of a Tragedy

Essay on Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex Fulfills All of the Requirements of a Tragedy

Length: 1073 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex Fulfills All of the Requirements of a Tragedy


Throughout Poetics, Aristotle describes what traits a tragedy must have to be successful. To support these choices, he makes use of a small analysis of many tragedies, including many of Sophocles’ plays; Oedipus Rex is one of the plays mentioned in Aristotle’s Poetics. Some of these traits include a successful plot structure, recognition scenes, and a correct choice for its hero. In Oedipus Rex, Sophocles fulfills all of these requirements.

According to Aristotle’s definition of tragedy, the plot of a tragedy is above all the most important element, and for one to write a successful tragedy, one must have an excellent plot. In his Poetics, Aristotle lists four characteristics that a good plot must have: order, amplitude, unity, and probable and necessary connection. The plot of Oedipus Rex contained all of these.

When Aristotle describes what he means by order, he states that a plot has “a beginning, a middle, and an end.” He continues by saying that by ‘beginning’, he means “that which is not necessarily the consequent of something else, but has some state or happening naturally consequent on it.” Oedipus Rex, for example, begins with Oedipus awaiting Creon’s return with the oracle’s advice on the issue of the plague overwhelming Thebes. The beginning of this play already describes why we have started this way and, as Aristotle put it, isn’t necessarily the consequence of something else. Although we, the readers, know that in fact it is, one hearing the story for the first time would understand the play just as well as a seasoned tragedian. The middle, which Aristotle says, “is consequent and has consequents,” depends on the beginning, ju...


... middle of paper ...


...y for him/her. What a character must be is a good person, as Oedipus is, with a few character flaws, as Oedipus has, thus making the audience able to pity him.

As all of these elements are essential to a good tragedy according to Aristotle, this play must obviously be a good tragedy. It has a successful plot, containing all four of the characteristics listed in Poetics, its hero has the essential character traits, and it has an excellent scene of recognition, containing both peripeteia and pathos. If all of these are what makes an essential plot, then this play, Oedipus Rex, ought to receive the highest praise from Aristotle.

Works Cited

Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. M. E. Hubbard. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972.

Dorsch, T. R., trans. and ed. Aristotle Horace Longinus: Classical Literary Criticism. New York: Penguin, 1965.

Hamilton 2

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Heart of Tragedy Based on Oedipus Rex Essay

- ... The denouement takes place when Oedipus is begging Creon to put him into exile. Character is also important in the Poetics. An important aspect of it, tragic flaw, also known as hamartia, is the fault in a character that eventually leads to their downfall. Oedipus, upon learning of Apollo’s creed to kill the murderer of the last king to restore Thebes to its former glory, becomes overly determined and vows to exile the murderer once he is found, including a family member if that is who the murderer turns out to be....   [tags: Sophocles, ancient Greek literature]

Strong Essays
602 words (1.7 pages)

tragoed Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex) as Ideal Tragic Hero Essay

- Oedipus Rex as the Ideal Tragic Hero If we give ourselves up to a full sympathy with the hero, there is no question that the Oedipus Rex fulfills the function of a tragedy, and arouses fear and pity in the highest degree. But the modern reader, coming to the classic drama not entirely for the purpose of enjoyment, will not always surrender himself to the emotional effect. He is apt to worry about Greek fatalism and the justice of the downfall of Oedipus, and, finding no satisfactory solution for these intellectual difficulties, loses half the pleasure that the drama was intended to produce....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]

Strong Essays
1261 words (3.6 pages)

The Tragedy Of Oedipus Rex Essay

- Greek theater is known for its tragedies, to the point that there is a formula for how to produce them. Catharsis is the end result of an ideal tragedy, and is a primary reason for why Aristotle views Oedipus Rex as the best Greek tragedy; even viewers today can feel catharsis from the play. Catharsis is a metaphor for emotional cleansing during a tragedy. Along with catharsis, Aristotle believes Oedipus Rex is a leading example of tragedy because of its simple plot, rational storyline and use of tragic essentials....   [tags: Tragedy, Drama, Poetics, Sophocles]

Strong Essays
751 words (2.1 pages)

The Tragedy Of Oedipus Rex Essay

- Aristotle’s definition of a tragedy is defined by six major parts which consist of plot, character, imagery, diction, melody, and spectacle. All these traits come together to create a fiction which dramatizes the events that may happen in the near future in order to purge emotions from the audience. Aristotle uses Sophocles OEDIPUS REX as a form to describe what a tragedy should have to be considered a tragedy. Knowing that OEDIPUS REX is the embodiment of a tragedy in Aristotle’s view, To Build A Fire would not fall under Aristotle’s view of a tragedy, but of a modern tragedy....   [tags: Tragedy, Poetics, Character, Sophocles]

Strong Essays
1338 words (3.8 pages)

Oedipus Rex Is A Classic Example Of A Greek Theatre Tragedy Essay

- Oedipus Rex is a classic example of a Greek theatre tragedy, written by Sophocles, and first performed in 429 BC. The story features Oedipus, the King of Thebes, and his story to lift the curse off of his kingdom by finding the previous king’s murderer and prosecuting him. In a crazy turn of events, it turns out that Oedipus is actually the son of the late King Laius, and his father’s killer. Due to a prophecy divulged to Oedipus’ father, Oedipus was left at a crossroads when he was a baby because it was told he would kill his father and sleep with his mother....   [tags: Oedipus, Tragedy, Aeschylus, Sophocles]

Strong Essays
1209 words (3.5 pages)

Essay about The Tragic Tragedy Of Sophocles ' Oedipus Rex

- The Greek play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles is known most famously for being an excellent portrayal of Greek tragedy. In the Poetics, philosopher Aristotle praises Sophocles for meeting his criteria of what makes up a perfect tragedy. The play follows an Aristotelian plot consisting of a scene of recognition, a reversal of situation and scenes of suffering. The play must also have the perfect tragic hero. They must be a superior individual without being too perfect, otherwise, their inevitable downfall would come across as unwarranted....   [tags: Sophocles, Tragedy, Oedipus the King, Oedipus]

Strong Essays
992 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on The Tragedy Of Sophocles ' Oedipus Rex And Hamlet '

- There is no doubt that tragedy has changed considerably since Aristotle first wrote the definition of tragedy in his Poetics in Ancient Greece, but these changes raise the question of whether modern tragedy still fits the classical definition of tragedy. Tragedy has evolved greatly since the times of the classical tragedies, including Oedipus Rex and Hamlet, to the more modern forms of tragedy, as seen in The Hairy Ape and Death of a Salesman. Despite its evolution and deviation from Aristotle’s definition, modern tragedy holds by the same principles, and retains the same power and message expressed by Aristotelian tragedy....   [tags: Tragedy, Tragic hero, Poetics, Sophocles]

Strong Essays
1546 words (4.4 pages)

Is Oedipus Rex a Story of Tragedy or Fate? Essay

- ... Even though pride had led him to his decision in killing a man, it was by fate that Oedipus should meet his father on that crossroad. A new topic arises as to if Oedipus is really responsible for what he has done because the tragedy is actually one of fate. The question of is intent needed for culpability has been explored since 300 BCE by philosophers. The story of Oedipus embodies this question at the heart of its plot and Trilling argues in his Preface to the Experience of Literature that Oedipus is not responsible for fulfilling the prophecies....   [tags: pride, prophesy, sins]

Strong Essays
1270 words (3.6 pages)

The Tragedy of Oedipus Rex Essay examples

- The Tragedy of Oedipus Rex Oedipus Rex is a tragedy that illustrates a man's sense of justice. The same man is also paranoid and impulsive. In the text, he overcomes his negative characteristics and succumbs to his greater sense of justice and responsibility. The king of Thebes is shown as a just ruler who cares about the suffering of his people. After saving the city from the Sphinx and her riddle, King Oedipus learns that a plague has beset upon the population. After consulting with the oracle at Delphi, Oedipus realizes that an unsolved crime is the cause for the suffering of the people....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]

Free Essays
525 words (1.5 pages)

Essay on tragoed Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex) and Greek Tragedy

- Oedipus Rex as a Great Greek Tragedy     The reader is told in Aristotle's Poetics that tragedy "arouses the emotions of pity and fear, wonder and awe" (The Poetics 10). To Aristotle, the best type of tragedy involves reversal of a situation, recognition from a character, and suffering. The plot has to be complex, and a normal person should fall from prosperity to misfortune due to some type of mistake. Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, is a great example of a Greek tragedy. Its main plot is Oedipus' goal to find out his true identity, the result being his downfall by finding out he has married his own mother and killed his father....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]

Strong Essays
1016 words (2.9 pages)