Oedipus Exemplifies or Refutes Aristotle's Definition of Research Paper

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Oedipus Exemplifies or Refutes Aristotle's Definition of a Tragic Hero

Aristotle's, the Greek philosopher definition of a tragic hero and tragedy has been influential since he set these definitions down in The Poetics. These definitions were viewed as important during the Renaissance, when scores of writers shaped their writings on the works of the ancient Rome and Greece. Aristotle asserted that tragedies follow the descent of a tragic hero or a central character, from a noble and high position to a low one. A tragic hero posse some tragic flaws, which cause his, fall from fortune, or turnaround of fortune, and to some point, the tragic hero realizes that his own mistakes have caused the turnaround of his fortune. Aristotle also noted that the tragic fall of a hero or a central character in a play stirs up fear to the audience or the reader given that the audience sympathizes with the character and dread a similar fate.

According to Aristotle, a tragic hero must be an essentially good person, but flawed (Bloom 19). A perfect tragedy must be arranged on a complex and not a simple plan, and it should imitate activities, which excite fear and pity with the fortune changing from good to bad. However, the change of fortune from good to bad should not be because of vice, but because of some frailty or great error. This paper assesses how Sophocles, Oedipus, exemplifies Aristotle's definition of tragic hero through evaluating the plot of the play, the aspects that instigates Oedipus downfall, the character traits of Oedipus and those of a tragic hero, and the aspects that causes reversal of Oedipus fortune.

Does Oedipus Exemplifies or Refutes Aristotle's Definition of a Tragic Hero


Aristotle in his poetic works asserts that a tragic hero faces misfortune while trying to seek for momentous goals. Oedipus, the king, is determined look and punishes Lauis's killers. He has put forth a penalty of an exile for the murderers of Lauis without the knowledge that he is actually the victim. He gouges out his eyes and he is cast out of his community not because of injustices but because of the blunder, he irrationally made (Kahan 68). His tragedy surfaces following his expedition for his Lauis justice. His past mistakes have led to his tragedy, he cannot believe that he misguidedly married his own mother and by accident killed his own father. Sophocles epitomizes Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero through a complex plot, Oedipus noble characters, moral principles, greatness, and reversal of fortune that instigated the Oedipus' tragic end,

Aristotle defines a tragedy as an imitation of an absolute noble action with a suitable magnitude and at the same time employs artistically enhanced language, "an imitation of an action that is serious, complete and of certain magnitude" (Stuke 4). According to Aristotle, the tragic hero arouses terror and consequently pity and fear. The audience sympathizes with a tragic hero because he suffers a terrible downfall that provokes catharsis. Aristotle defines tragic characters as characters who with certainty try to find for evocative goals. In this regard, views a tragic hero as a character, who is caught not in faultless justice and virtue, or a person who experiences misfortune because of his wickedness or being bad, but a person who rather experiences misfortune due to some miscalculation (Ormand 441).

Sophocles depicts a perfect tragedy through employing a complex plot that imitates actions, which stimulate fear and pity. Sophocles', Oedipus, demonstrates the story of a man who tries to cling to a respectable conduct as he ascertains the discredit in his past life. Oedipus strives to discover his distressed past life. When he learns that his city is snowed under with pestilence and other misfortunes," God that carries fire, a deadly pestilence on our town," Oedipus sends Creon to set free the populace of Apollo's oracle (Sophocles & Grene 12). Creon returns with the information that everything would be all right if the assassin of Oedipus predecessor are found. In this regard, Oedipus is determined to get hold of Lauis murderers. He sends for Tiresias, the blind seer, who names Oedipus as the person behind Lauis murder. Oedipus is not impressed by the prophet's statement. As a result, he views Tiresias's statement and actions as a scheme by the prophet and Creon to throw him out of the throne. Eventually, Oedipus realizes that he is the person behind King Lauis' murder. He is displeased after discovering that he fortuitously killed his own father and more excruciating, married his own mother. He is torn apart and he cannot take in the fact that he has all along been the killer of his predecessor and been married to his own mother. He gouges his eyes out and finally asks to be cast out, the punishment he had set for the murderers of Lauis.

Oedipus posses some tragic flow that causes his fall from fortune, or turnaround of his affluence, and he realizes that his own mistakes have caused the reversal of his fortune. Tragedies follow the descent of a tragic hero or a central character, from a noble and high position to a low one (Ormand 441). Oedipus is a tragic hero who descends from a noble and a high position to an outcast with gouged eyes. He realizes his destiny through his own activities, and he falls from a high esteem with his downfall prompting the reader's pity and fear. Oedipus Rex is a tragedy that closely fit the guidelines of a tragic hero. According to Sophocles and Osborne, Oedipus is the model of the tragic hero given that the notion of the tragic hero is founded on him. Because of his hamartia, Oedipus suffers a reversal or peripeteia, which according to Aristotle is the heart of a tragedy (69). Even though hamartia is translated as tragic flow, it does not display an abiding or deep personality failure such as lust or pride. However, hamartia refers to a mistake of recognition or perception (Sophocles and Osborne 69). For a character to be termed as a tragic hero, he/she must face reversal of his fortune. Sophocles Oedipus exemplifies Aristotle definition of a tragic hero because of Oedipus reversal of fortune. According to Aristotle, the reversal of fortune is a main aspect towards triggering pity and fear in the audience. Sophocles established the idea of critical lapse of judgment or flaw that brought about the fall of a virtuous and masterful personality. The fate of Oedipus aroused the terror and pity in the audience through witnessing the tragic events.

Oedipus is an in essence a good person, but he is chained by his own imprudence. He does not look beyond and realize the upshots of his behaviors particularly the penalty he is imposing on his predecessor's killers. According to Aristotle, a tragic hero must be a good person, but flawed. Oedipus is determined to find his father's murderers following the danger that the people of Thebes are facing. In the beginning of the story, gods sends a plague against the Thebes because of the existence and presence of the person who killed Laius, and following the incest of Jocasta and Oedipus (Ormand 441). Oedipus has put forth a fine of an exile for the murderers of Lauis without knowing that he is the killer of his own father. He has been blinded by his own past to an extent that he imposes a stiffer penalty for the murderers of Lauis ( Madden 66).He is infuriated by the act of the executions without considering that he is indeed a murderer. What subsists to him is the wickedness of other people, which he pledges to handle with impunity, but he forgets that he is also a depraved person. Oedipus is ignorant and unfounded, and he meets his tragedy due to trepidation and his way of thinking merely because he cannot see authenticity of the matter, but only glimpse a portion of it.

The fortune of Oedipus changes from good to bad because of the accidental murder of his own father and the incest between him and his mother. According to Aristotle, the change of fortune of a tragic hero from good to bad should not be because of vice, but because of some frailty or great error. Oedipus practiced an unnatural sexual connection with his biological mother, but their spousal relationship was not planned, but in actual sense, their sexual affair surfaced innocently without them knowing that they were indeed mother and son. Oedipus was a person compelled through high moral principles and his internal moral values eventually got in a series of circumstances and events. Given the series of events highlighted by Sophocles that eventually triggered the tragedy that befell Oedipus, Oedipus is a tragic hero.

Oedipus exemplifies Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero; a man who is not pre-eminently just and virtuous as he considers himself to be and he appear to be. Oedipus misfortune is not brought about by depravity and vice but…[continue]

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