Tragic Hero Essay, Research Paper
Aristotle described a tragic hero as being a person who, through a flaw, in their own character, is brought from a high position and learns to ?see the light? before their own destruction. In the Theban play. ?King Oedipus?, Oedipus is considered to be a tragic hero after his mother and father try to cheat fate, then later when Oedipus discovered his own fate, he tried to cheat his fate also only in truth ending up where destiny had planned. Another Theban play, ?Antigone?, also written by Sophocles includes Oedipus? daughter, Antigone, as the tragic hero when she dies for what she believes in.
When Laius and Jocasta discovered the fate of their unborn child, Oedipus, was to kill his father and marry his mother, Laius and Jocasta tried to cheat fate. By placing Oedipus on a hill and inserting a spike into his foot and through the ground Jocasta and Laius had hoped to kill their child, and cheat their fate. However, a shepherd man discovered this neglected child he brought him to the home of a king who was trying to conceive children without any success. This king took Oedipus into his family never telling him about his tragic past. After Oedipus grew up knowing only of one family he too tried to cheat his fate. Oedipus had learned by means of a prophet that his fate was to kill his father and marry his mother, so he left the town in which he had lived his whole life, and traveled to Thebes. On the way to Thebes, Oedipus had killed a man and saved the town by solving the riddle of the Sphinx. (The Sphinx was an awful sea monster who would eat everyone crossing his way who would not correctly answer his riddle.) Upon arriving in Thebes the town praised him and the Queen, Jocasta, married hi. Unaware of what had happened and his fate coming true without his own realization was Oedipus? downfall. Prior to realizing what he had done, Oedipus promised Jocasta that he would kill the man who had killed her husband. When Oedipus recognized that he had been the one who had killed Laius, he took a knife to his eyes leaving himself blind, as to symbolize himself not seeing his own doom coming true. Oedipus himself exclaimed, ?Cone, feel you brother?s hands. It was their work that darkened these clear eyes ? your father?s eyes as once you knew them, though he never saw nor knew what he did when he became your father. They cannot see you; but they weep with you.?
Antigone, one of Oedipus and Jocasta?s daughters, is perceived as a tragic hero in the eyes of many for going against her uncle, Creon, the king of Thebes, when she buried her brother and lover, Polynices. Though no longer a princess, Creon still recognized Antigone as one which keeps her high in her social class. Due to this high social recognition, Antigone had more to lose than most. This high position could put her to shame, and because she had never lived her life without the things she needed, it may be difficult for her to do so. However, Antigone has such a big heart that even though her beloved Polynices went against the family, she still believed that he should be buried in order for his soul to live on as the Greeks had believed.
The deaths of both Oedipus and Antigone truly make them tragic heroes. If fate had been good for both of them they would not have been tragic heroes, instead just heroes. Oedipus, though living for years after being sentenced to death, lived blindly. He didn?t want to face what he had done to himself, and to the people whom he lived the most. When he finally died he had to leave his children to not have a father anymore. Antigone had admitted to the burying of her brother/lover due to her strong head, stubbornness, determination, and the honor in which she had felt. Antigone?s brother, Haemon, even said, ?And I have heard them, muttering and whispering?They say no woman has ever, so unreasonably, died so shameful a death for a generous act.? However, she didn?t want to give her uncle, Creon, the satisfaction of knowing that he had killed her. So, to spite Creon Antigone went to a cave and killed herself.
In conclusion, Oedipus and Antigone are tragic heroes in the eyes of Aristotle. Both were high in social class, however, had a downfall due to their na?ve behavior. The mistake(s) made by Oedipus and Antigone resulting in their ultimate demise. If Oedipus had not tried to cheat fate he would have lived a long, happy life. Just the same, if Antigone had not decided to go against the laws of her uncle she would not have been forced to kill herself. Both were tragic heroes due to their na?ve conduct.