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Oedipus Rex By Sophocles. Essay

1169 words - 5 pages

The play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles may be viewed as a Greek tragic drama as it involves the downfall of a tragic hero, in this case Oedipus. This play contains all the hallmarks of a Greek drama by engaging the audience and relating them to the characters. It involves the overbearing hubris and hamartia, cleansing of the catharsis, and dramatic irony. The contrast of the protagonist at the beginning and end of the play show a downfall and the poetic words of the chorus provide a commentary of the action. The play contains all the key features of a tragedy, with a tragic hero of noble birth, a tragic flaw, a fall from grace, a moment of remorse, and catharsis.Oedipus, like all tragic heroes, is an honourable King whose is looked up to by subjects and people alike. However, he has a tragic flaw which leads to his downfall. In this play, it could be argued that Oedipus' hamartia is infact his arrogance and hubris. Indeed he does say "the world knows my fame," and thinks he is above the knowledge of the blind seer. His anger is another flaw. He kills his father out of anger, thereby fulfilling half of the prophecy and then asks "what stopped you from tracking down the killer then and there?" His swiftness, in part, is his strength. It aids him to become king but ironically it also causes his downfall along with his disbelief of the truth. He disregards what the seer tells him without thinking, and when it is very coincidental that Jocasta tells him of a prophecy similar to his, he chooses to dismiss it out of fear of the truth.It could also be argued that curiosity and persistence is part of his hamartia. His threat to the shepherd, "You're a dead man if I have to ask again," along with the line "I must see the truth at last," is evidence of this. Jocasta tries to protect him out of love. She says, "No, please - for your sake - I want the best for you," but he does not listen to her, the shepherd or the seer, who try to protect him. Ironically, he digs his own grave by not listening to them.The downfall of the tragic hero is evident in the contrast between the beginning and end of the play. At the start of the play, the chorus talks about Oedipus' "brilliance" and how he was "a man beyond all power". Everyone looks up to him, and he is considered "king of the land...the greatest power". However, due to his fate and no fault of his own, he finds out that he has killed his father and slept with his mother. One could argue that he finds out as a consequence of his hamartia, but he was always destined to do so, and it was the gods' wish for him to find out his deeds. At the end of the play, Oedipus is so distraught that he gouges out his eyes. A "black sea of terror" overwhelms him and he becomes physically blind but gains insight. He is a "poor man", a subject of pity. He has lost his children, kingdom and power and this reiterates the main theme of the play, "count no man happy till he dies."The catharsis is the release of emotional tension and in the...

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