Tragedy in Oedipus

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Tragedy is an unavoidable part of life. All in one form or another will experience it, and tragic heroes within literature demonstrate how large of a role it may play in one’s existence. This becomes especially evident in the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles in the life of the tragic hero, Oedipus. A tragic hero, according to Aristotle, has many defining characteristics, all of which can be related to Oedipus, King of Thebes. According to Aristotle, a tragic hero must be a character of noble stature and greatness while embodying nobility as an inner virtue. Next, while tragic heroes are great, they are never perfect and always posses character flaws to make them more relatable to the masses. Continuing, a tragic hero’s fall from power is the fault of the hero; the result of free choice usually attributed to the heroes imperfection. Next, A hero’s actions result in an increase of self- awareness and self-knowledge. Finally, the fate of a tragic hero does not leave the audience in a state of depression, but draws solemn emotions of pity and sympathy. Oedipus, King of Thebes is a prime example of a tragic hero, as defined by Aristotle because he posses all of the characteristics necessary to be classified as such. To be a tragic hero, one must be of noble stature and greatness. This applies perfectly to Oedipus, as he is the king of Thebes. He was not born into this position, rather acquired it for solving the riddle of the riddle of The Sphinx. The Chorus emphasized Oedipus’ greatness, albeit shortly after his fall, “People of Thebes, my countrymen, look on Oedipus. He solved the famous riddle with his brilliance, he rose to power, a man beyond all power. Who could behold his greatness without envy?” (Sophocles, 53) These lines, spoken by the Chorus show the unquestionable fact of Oedipus’ brilliance, and suggested that no one could view him without feeling envy.

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