Oedipus Rex Essay, Research Paper
In his Poetics, Aristotle defined the term tragedy as a man not preeminently virtuous and just, whose misfortune, however, is brought upon him not by vice or depravity, but by some error in judgement the change in the hero s fortune must not be from misery to happiness, but on the contrary, from happiness to misery . From this definition, he further expanded it by defining the profile of the tragic hero. I agree with Aristotle s views in which he considered the best tragedy ever written was Sophacle s Oedipus Rex. He felt that a tragedy should consist of the hero s goodness and superiority, a tragic flaw in which the hero makes fatal errors in judgement which eventually lead to his downfall, and the absence of freewill in the tragic hero s life.
Oedipus was a good ruler: just, compassionate and sympathetic. When the priests of Thebes approached him, pleading for help on behalf of the people of Thebes who were suffering from death and famine. Oedipus immediately agreed and promised them that he would do his best in solving the problems, saying that his heart bore the weight of his own and all of his people s sorrows . He promised to bring everything to light . Oedipus s superiority was also evident in the play, not only through his ranking of the king of Thebes, but also through his intelligence which was shown when Oedipus was the only person able to chase the Sphinx away with the correct answer to her riddle.
However, Oedipus was not a perfect man. His tragic flaw was that of stubbornness, impulsiveness and most of all, his great amount of pride. When he left Corinth, he met an entourage on the way to Thebes. There, the leader of the horse-drawn carriage ordered him out of the way . Oedipus lost his temper and killed everyone in the entourage due to his impulsiveness and foolishness. When Oedipus was later crowned King of Thebes he learned from Teiresias that it was himself who had killed King Lauis. Oedipus did not believe him and insulted the blind prophet, calling him names like insolent scoundrel . His pride refused to let him believe he had killed his own father which lead him to his downfall.
Oedipus also had no freewill. He had absolutely no say in his life. When he was born, Apollo s oracle predicted that he would kill his father and marry his mother, to which his parents decided to abandon him on the mountain-side and leave him to die. However, fate intervened and Oedipus soon found himself being adopted by the King and Queen of Corinth. When Oedipus solved the riddle of the Sphinx, he could not have known that he would end up marrying his own mother. When he met King Lauis, he could not have known that he had killed his own father. Whichever way you look at him, Oedipus had no free will- simply because he did not realize the consequences of his actions because he had no knowledge of the significance of everything he did. All these errors in judgement he had made led to his eventual downfall.
Oedipus Rex is a perfect example of what Aristotle meant by a tragedy. It talks about a man who has no say in what path his life would take, a man who once had everything. He was a king, a good husband and father, a man contented with his lot in life who eventually lost his status, wife, children and home. He brings us sympathy simply because he was not evil or foolish, just human and fallibal.
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