Oedipus The King Essay, Research Paper
3. How Sophocles? Oedipus the King fits the description of tragedy provided by Aristotle? Why does Aristotle believe tragedy is superior to epic poetry?
First of all to understand how Oedipus the King fits the description of tragedy we need to know what the description is. Fortunately Aristotle?s description is kindly provided and explained in detail. It is described that poems have to include certain elements to be called a tragedy. Through logical discussion Aristotle determines these elements to be plot, characters, diction, thought, spectacle, and song. So the question becomes ?Does Oedipus the King have the above listed elements??
Obviously Oedipus the King has a plot, and quite a sad one. Without plot there wouldn?t be anything to tell, for the plot is the logical connection of events?an essence of a story. Secondly, it is also known from the tragedy?s text that it has several fully developed characters?Oedipus himself, Kreon?Oedipus? brother-in-law (who turns out to be his blood brother), Jocasta, and others. There is diction in the tragedy for there is well thought out dialogue present between the characters. Let us skip thought as an element, and come back to it later, for it requires special attention. Spectacle is present in a form of slight exaggerations in reactions and decisions (by today?s standards) of the characters. The chorus of Theban Elders provides the spectator with songs and reactions of the ?crowd?. Let us return to the missed element?thought. It is my understanding that thought is described as the probability of events, which Aristotle especially emphasized on. The probability of the events must be high in order to have a quality tragedy. The probability of murdering your own father and then marrying your own mother, given the population of Thebes, is quite low. Therefore I must say that even though it is very interesting, this tragedy has no, or almost no thought given Aristotle?s reasoning.
Overall Oedipus the King fits Aristotle?s criteria for a tragedy except for the element of thought. I must also mention that there are other criteria set by Aristotle which Oedipus the King meets. The described events, for example, all happen in one day. Also, the action in the play is centered on the events that are directly connected to the plot.
Aristotle?s reasoning also implies that tragedy is superior to epics, because tragedy is a much more evolved and therefore complex type of poetry.
P.S. Does the plot of Oedipus the King imply that ?ignorance is bliss??