The Perfect Tragedy Essay

1261 words - 5 pages

Oedipus the King is a tragic story. A tragedy is defined as a dramatic orliterary work in which the principal character engages in a morally significant struggleending in ruin or profound disappointment (Poetics). Sophocles uses many techniques to create thisfrightening feeling of fear and pity in his readers. This in turn creates an excellenttragedy. The play, Oedipus the King, by Sophocles, displays many qualities that make itan immense Greek tragedy. According to Aristotle there are only fivethings that can describe a tragedy. The play has to have a tragic hero, preferably of noblestature. Second, the tragic hero must have a tragic flaw. Because of that flaw, the herofalls from either power or death because he or she realized that there was a certain fraud or sin thatwas discovered in him. Due to the fall, the tragic hero discovers something. Finally, there must be acatharsis, or a feeling of aw in the minds of the audience. Oedipus the King fits allthe characteristics as defined by Aristotle; thus the story is a tragedy.The tragic hero of a play is a man of some social standing and personal reputation who has aflaw in his actions. Throughout the play Oedipus reaches the Peripeteia of the story when he realizesin a conversation with a shepherd that he was not the real son of Polybus, but rather an adopted sonfrom king Laius. In his conversation with the shepherd, Oedipus soon remembered the oracle'sprophecy of killing his father Laius, and marring his wife would be fulfilled (232). Throughout all ofthese events, the irony could be seen because of Oedipus' blindness of his past history.One of Oedipus flaws was his quickness to take a position andstubborn loyalty in spite of personal hazard. Oedipus makes decisions publicly for all to hear,making reconsideration difficult for a proud person such as himself. When Creon,Oedipus's kinsman returns with information from the oracle concerning the Ills ofThebes, he wishes to tell Oedipus privately. But foolishly Oedipus tells Creon to speakup, not knowing that it was bad news concerning his future. For what Oedipus said was,"Let them all hear it. It is for them I suffer, more than for myself (163)." This was the firsttime that Oedipus is confronted with the idea that he might have fulfilled the prophecy because hefeels that his kingdom is falling apart in the plague that they are stuck in. Oedipus' quickness to takeposition in fact leads to a greater consequence that will harm both him and his family in the future.Oedipus, hoping to find any information regarding the elimination of the pastking, decrees an order for all of his citizens so that he might find the assassinator(s). Thisorder consisted of submitting any unknown facts of Laius' murder so that he/she may come forwardwithout any fear of reprisal, concurrently forbidding the withholding of information.Oedipus reaffirms his stand to avenge the murdered king, promising the consequences tonot diminish because of one's position (172). Oedipus has...

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