Oedipus Synthesis Essay

1305 words - 5 pages

1HodskinsJacqueline HodskinsMs. CyrAP Literature/ Period 216 October 2014Complete Characterization is CrucialAristotle defines a tragedy to be "the imitation in dramatic form of an action that is serious and complete, with incidents arousing pity and fear wherewith it effects a catharsis of such emotions." By his definition, Oedipus Rex is considered to be the perfect tragedy. Oedipus commits two "fatal sins" that, to some, makes him seem morally flawed. He unknowingly killed his own father and slept with his mother. Oedipus even goes as far as to say he is an "evil man" (1387) for his actions. Without knowledge of Oedipus' history and reasoning, it would be easy to presume that he is immoral and the worst kind of person. However, with the complete presentation of Oedipus and his actions he is more sympathetic than not. Sophocles fully characterizes Oedipus and describes his utter blindness to his sins in a way that creates irony throughout the play. His character is construed in all different aspects to reach different emotions of the audience.Being a Greek tragedy, the audience is usually very familiar with the legends that are in the foundation of the play. Therefore, from the very beginning of the play the audience already has a detailed understanding of Oedipus' life story. Sophocles further describes Oedipus in the play in order to define his present character. He effectively emphasizes Oedipus' lack of knowledge to show his complete ignorance of the situation. When he commits his unforgiveable sins, he is completely blinded to the immorality of his actions. Sophocles continually makes hints to Oedipus of his blindness to his sins. Multiple times, Teiresias blatantly tells Oedipus that he cannot see what is happening. After Oedipus mocks Teiresias' blindness he tells Oedipus "You, with both your eyes, are blind" (399). Teireseas' words anger Oedipus. His frustration caused by the blind seer reiterates the complete arrogance that Oedipus had adopted due to his lack of knowledge of the sins he has committed. His hashing of the ones he talks to allows the audience to begin to feel his pain. With their understanding of what he has gone through, they also have an understanding of why he does what he does. Being accused of the wrongdoings with such a negative connotation leads the audience to also feel the frustration Oedipus is going through. They understand that his actions have no wrong intent. Without their knowledge of Oedipus' past, they would not be able to see why Oedipus is so distraught by the accusations and make negative conclusions of his character. Since the audience is educated about Oedipus' history, they are easily alerted by the constant references that Oedipus makes to sight. According to Thomas Foster, "The audience gasps and squirms in their seats" whenever a reference to sight is made because they know the reality of the situation, in that Oedipus is insightly blinded (202). They can see what he cannot and begin to feel...

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