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Aristotle’s Poetics Through Oedipus Rex Essay

1221 words - 5 pages

Tragedy is a form of drama based on human suffering that is often described as bad things happening to good people. Many appeal to tragedy because they feel good that they feel dolorous for the person suffering. Greek playwrights used it entrance the emotions of the audience. Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles, is a great example of a Greek tragedy. Around this time of Greek theatre, Aristotle wrote the Poetics, which analyzed tragic drama and specifically Oedipus Rex. Aristotle used Oedipus Rex to help explain the main components to a Greek tragedy. These main components are illustrated through Oedipus Rex, which include the importance of plot, tragic flaw of a main character, unity of action, Cathartic Purging, and the absence of spectacle.
The first component of dramatic tragedies is the importance of plot and how it propels characters contrary to that of comedic tragedies in which the plot is driven by characters. In dramatic tragedies, the characters have no control over their own fate. No matter what they do, they can never control or escape fate. This component is demonstrated in Sophocles’ tragedy when Oedipus causes his own fall. However, this fall was not caused by the character's weakness or flaw. It was predestined and uncontrollable to him. Although he could not control or change his fate, his tragic flaw, determination, is led to his downfall. The plot propelled his character as he fought to change his fate, which led to his actual fate. This tragic flaw, another component of Greek tragedy, caused his fate to be fulfilled. He was determined to escape the oracle so he fled from Corinth, where he believed his father was. He killed a random group of travelers including his real father as he was fleeing. Had he not been determined, he would not have left Corinth and his fate would have changed. However, you can’t change fate.
Another component is the hero being of a “higher type” meaning they have a higher status or tend to be more important. As king over many people, anything that happens to Oedipus affects not only himself but his people as well. It has a domino affect making it more tragic.
Aristotle described tragedy as “an imitation of an action.” Another component of Greek tragedy, this quotation refers to tragedy as an idea that “shows” rather than “tells.” History tells what had happened whereas tragedy tells what could or may happen. Thus, tragedy would be a universal concept, implying that there are no specific circumstances or causes, but anyone could fall victim to tragedy. Oedipus is presented as a model for all humans to show it can happen to anyone. No circumstances made Oedipus more susceptible to a more saddening fate. This idea of showing causes the audience to not only feel pity, but to feel fear as well because they could be a victim to a similar or worse situation.
Another characteristic of Greek tragedies is the evocation of pity and fear, two emotions induced by all Greek tragedies. Pity is created when...

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