AP Literature and Composition
18 November 2018
Tragedy has played a significant role in literature since ancient times. It is one of the oldest literary genres. Tragedy is a type of drama in which the hero encounters human suffering, usually due to his own fault. That event provokes catharsis from the reader, which is the feeling of pity and fear that the audience has for the tragic hero. Tragedy is generally caused by natural human flaws within the hero’s personality. Specifically, errors of judgement and excessive pride lead to the hero’s downfall. In literature as well as in life, tragedies remind us that humans aren't flawless, and hubris can unintentionally cause pain for ourselves and others, for better or worse.
In Oedipus Rex, Sophocles has the tragic hero, Oedipus, set out to evade the Oracle's prophecy. The Oracle stated that Oedipus was to murder his father and marry his mother. This is the part of the tragedy that mostly represents the hero's misjudgement. What Oedipus can’t foresee is that by avoiding the prophecy he is actually generating it. Oedipus had so much trust in his own ability to avoid fate, he didn’t think it as was possible for it to happen to him. Yet, he viciously goes after the person that murdered Laius in order to save Thebes and only eventually finds out the truth. His misjudgement leads him to avoid the prophecy on a path that causes him to kill his real father, and ultimately his mother/wife. Then, while all of Oedipus’ nonsense takes place the city of Thebes is suffering. If Oedipus would have taken control of himself and acted more quickly the village people would have been spared pain. After all of this unfolds, Oedipus decides to gouge his eyes and go far away. Ironically, this is the part of tragedy that brings out the best in him. During this period, he comes to truly know himself and be at peace for the first time. Since Oedipus was blind to the truth for so long the tragic events brought at least one good thing....