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Oedipus, The Perfect Tragic Hero Essay

1252 words - 6 pages

In the play Oedipus Rex, Oedipus, commented by Aristotle, is considered to be the ideal example of a tragic hero. In his Poetics, Aristotle defines tragedy and determines its necessary components. He defines tragedy as an imitation of actions that provoke pity and fear, which in turn results in Catharsis, the cleansing of unwanted feelings. Thus, every component of a tragedy must revolve around the production of catharsis. Aristotle believes that Oedipus was the ideal tragic hero because of the strong bond with the audience and that he excited intensified pity and fear. Oedipus perfectly portrays the 4 main characteristics mandatory in a Greek drama, which were nobleness, harmartia, reversal ...view middle of the document...

Even before becoming the king of Thebes, Oedipus already establishes a firm emotional attachment with the audience. However, to further enhance catharsis, Sophocles reinsures that emotional attachment. Oedipus again gains nobility through royalty after Creon passes the crown onto Oedipus as a gift of gratitude. The audience sees Oedipus' sympathy and willingness to help his people in the town's hall and feels Oedipus' sense of superiority through the priests' pleads. The priest refers to Oedipus as not "the equal of gods, but as the first of men" (Sophocles pg 26) which exaggerates his greatness to be the greatest of mankind. Therefore, through many sources of respect, Oedipus develops a strong and positive emotional attachment with the audience.Harmatia becomes the next step in the guideline for the ideal tragic hero after respect for the protagonist develops. Harmartia is the tragic flaw of the hero that would lead to his demise. His punishment still surpassing his crime, Oedipus possess many tragic flaws, some more subtle than others. It is essential that the downfall of the hero was not caused by distinctive or subjective characteristics, and that the chain of events leading to his downfall was not random, for this would only cause pity and will not excite fear. Oedipus' tragic flaws are his arrogance, stubbornness and impulsiveness, which are considered human flaws or human failings. However, because of these common human characteristics seen as flaws, the downfall of Oedipus will cause fear, fear for the possibility that it could happen to any man. We can sense Oedipus' arrogance and impulsiveness as he is confident that he could outplay the gods to show the falseness of the oracle. His stubbornness became a huge issue, considering how it blinds him from the hints of Creon and the warnings of Jocasta. Combined with his thirst for knowledge, arrogance and impulsiveness led him to reality which would cause his downfall. Jocasta's warning became the last strand of hope left for Oedipus to leave the truth, but because of his stubbornness, arrogance and impulsiveness, he ignores Jocasta and meets his demise. Even though these flaws lead to such a downfall, they were still simply human characteristics leading to human failings. By these human failings, the downfall of Oedipus will cause both pity and fear.Aristotle believes that reversal is a necessity to adding complexity into Greek tragedy, which combined properly, will cause pity and fear. He defines in...

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