Essay about The Tragic Tragedy Of Sophocles ' Oedipus Rex

Essay about The Tragic Tragedy Of Sophocles ' Oedipus Rex

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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. They must incur the tragic outcome of their fate due to a mistake that Aristotle defines as a hamartia. Oedipus Rex meets all Aristotle 's required elements of a perfect tragedy.


In Aristotle’s analysis of tragedy he argues that a good tragedy includes both reversal and recognition scenes. A scene of recognition is when the protagonist experiences a sudden revelation or enlightenment through the recognition of another character 's true identity. Oedipus’ scene of recognition is also converging with his reversal of fate as it is the recognition that brings about the reversal. The Shepard, who rescued him from the side of the mountain, tells him the story of his infancy. From this story, Oedipus is able to infer that Jocasta is actually his mother and that Laius was his father. The exact moment of Oedipus’ realization is seen here within the context of this quote.

“Ah me! ah me! All brought to pass, all true! O light, may I behold you nevermore!
I stand a wretch, in birth, in wedlock cursed, A parricide, incestuously, triply cursed!”
—Oedipus Rex (lines 1185-1188)

Here Oedipus realizes all the events of the curse, which he 's tried so hard to avoid have now all come to pass. Cursed in his birth and...


... middle of paper ...


... of being blind to who he longs to see this might be in reference to his parents who’s identity he longed to uncover, when in fact, he was in contact with both his mother and his father without ever realizing it. Ironically, in his blindness, he can now finally see what he could not in sight. Oedipus, a once great man then leaves, banished and blinded, to live out his miserable fate in solitude.


Meeting all Aristotle’s criteria, Oedipus is an essentially good but imperfect character subject to forces beyond his control whilst still possessing qualities that inspire sympathy from the audience. Unable to avoid the circumstances brought upon him by the curse, Oedipus meets a gruesome fate. Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex exemplifies scenes including recognition, reversal, and suffering all in which Aristotle argues as being quintessential in the making of a perfect tragedy.

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