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Engl 102 Essay

1652 words - 7 pages

Significant events among the Greek empire have developed a stimulating effect on English education around the globe. This has created a lasting effect on people and it’s uncommon to not have a familiarity with Greek tragedies. Most people do not take the time to think about the elements that make them tragedies or make the characters in them tragic heroes. In one of the “earliest surviving works of dramatic theory” of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, he laid out his rules for what is the foundation of a tragedy and a tragic hero. In the play by Sophocles, Oedipus stands out as a classic representation of what a tragedy hero is.  
Oedipus the book has key aspects that Aristotle said ...view middle of the document...

Creon comes back and informs them that the current plague is because the Gods are angry about the murder of the former King Laius. Oedipus decides that he will find who the murderer is and exile him in order to end the plague sent by the gods. This first scene does two things to highlight the traits that make him a tragic hero by Aristotle’s definition. One of them is showing that Oedipus is a noble and great man. In order to even be counted as a tragic hero you have to have some sort of high standing to fall from, and this first scene establishes Oedipus’ status by showing that he is powerful king that the citizens come to in their time of need. Another thing that is established is his compassion for his citizens and that he is in essence a good man who feels sorry for the citizens of Thebes and wants to end their suffering.
A third point that is established after Oedipus vows to find the person who murdered the former king Laius. While Oedipus resolving to find the murderer of the former king might be seen as a noble thing to do at first, Oedipus quickly corrects that view and shows that he is by no means “a paragon of virtue”. He states that he is determined to find the murderer of the former king because “not for some far-off kinsman, but myself….for whoso slew the king might have a mind to strike me too with his assassin hand. Therefore in righting him I serve myself”. This exemplifies Oedipus as a tragic hero because while he is a good man, he is not so good and righteous that he would think of putting justice for the death of a former king before the good of himself.
Aristotle’s other rule for what constitutes a tragic hero was the tragic error that must be the downfall of the character. There were two errors committed that brought about Oedipus’ downfall. The first tragic error of Oedipus’ was the same tragic error that his father committed, which was attempting to run from his fate. After hearing the Oracle prophesize that his son would kill him one day and marry his mother, Oedipus’ father, King Laius, decided to pierce Oedipus’ ankle, bind his legs, and have him abandoned in the woods, where he would have been ripped apart by animals. When the oracle told Oedipus the same thing he ran away from his adopted parents, not knowing they were not his real parents. “Oedipus destroyed himself was not his folly but his keenly intelligent moral conscience, which led him to take every possible step to avoid the unspeakable pollution that had been prophesied for him.” By running from the words of the oracle he essentially sealed his fate, just as his father did by abandoning him as a child.
His second error was his search for truth and his persistence in finding it even though multiple people tried to dissuade him from it. When the prophet Tiresias was brought before Oedipus to reveal who the murderer of King Laius was, Tiresias tried to convince Oedipus that he would be better off not knowing the truth. But instead of taking Tiresias’...

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