Essay The Tragic Hero Of Sophocles ' Oedipus Rex '

Essay The Tragic Hero Of Sophocles ' Oedipus Rex '

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According to Aristotle, the main function of a theatre production was to make impression on the audience. The emotional state of the main character is one of the most decisive factors for a successful theatre performance. The famous tragedy “Oedipus Rex” by Sophocles is the best known exemplification of Aristotle’s concept of the tragic hero and a perfect example of the key element of making an impression. The protagonist, Oedipus, is a strong leader, a righteous king and a famous man for his heroics making his grievous fall from grace that much more dramatic and emotional for the audience. Fading development from perfection to failure creates a correlation along with the principles found in a tragic hero as put forth by Aristotle. Sophocles’ protagonist perfectly fits the Aristotelian characteristic of the tragic hero because despite the troubles that beset him, Oedipus continues to embody the virtues of good man and in the end the trouble that comes to him is no fault of his own.
Aristotle is every careful in his definition of the tragic hero as the variations of a play could very quickly take away away from the key principles of the concept. Aristotle insisted that the tragic hero had to be a very specific man “a man not pre-eminently virtuous and just, whose misfortune, however, is brought upon him not by vice and depravity but by some error of judgement.” (Reeves, The Aristotelian Concept) Aristotle also mentions that at no point was the character allowed to progress from misery to happiness as he claims this “… situation is not fear-inspiring or piteous but simply odious to us (the audience).” (Reeves, The Aristotelian Concept) Aristotle’s concept hero then reaches a peak of greatness and the fall is uninterrupted, compl...


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... end up making the perfect tragedy and instead is a bore to the audience. In the case of Oedipus Rex, Fate has prescribed to the main character a number of perverted and sinful actions. A tragic character makes mistakes unintentionally. Thus, his ignorance drives him into failure. While Oedipus is a good and even sometimes considered a great man, his ignorance to his mistake, his failings and the horrible consequences of his actions mean that in the end while his ignorance mean that his downfall comes through no fault of his own intentionally, his horrific failure cripples him permanently both literally and figuratively. Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex then, is a perfect exemplification of the concept the Aristotelean tragic hero and as Aristotle would later claim, a perfect tragedy almost a hundred and fifty years before Aristotle even had set the ground rules for a tragedy.

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