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Oedipus: The Tragic Hero In Oedipus Rex And Antigone

1047 words - 4 pages

An Aristotelian Tragic Hero is characterized by seven different aspects; the tragic hero must have noble stature, be good but not perfect, have an error in judgment, have a downfall, go through catharsis, their punishment must exceed crime, and the audience must feel fear and pity for the character. The two plays Oedipus Rex and Antigone by Sophocles show the qualities of a tragic hero according to Aristotle using Oedipus and partially Antigone. The tragic hero title does not apply to a character that does not represent one or more characteristics. Antigone only represents some qualities of an Aristotelian Tragic Hero, whereas Oedipus represents all of the qualities.
Antigone may not represent all of the components of a tragic hero, but she does depict some. Her parents Jocasta and Oedipus did rule the thrown, and that gave Antigone her noble stature. Even though Antigone is pre-eminently great, she has flaws. She wants to honor her deceased brother, Polyneices, by burying him, but she wants to defy the laws openly to prove her point. After she commits the crime of burying her brother, Creon asks,
Creon: Did you know an edict had forbidden this?
Antigone: Of course I knew. Was it not publicly proclaimed?
Creon: So you chose flagrantly to disobey my law?
Antigone: Naturally… I feel no twinges of regret. (Sophocles Antigone 210)
This quotation shows how Antigone wants the whole city of Thebes to know that she will achieve martyrdom for her actions and because she just wants people to admire her. That also describes her downfall and error in judgment; she wants the world to know that she broke the law and that she did it for the Gods, but her hubris did not allow her to do it quietly. And as a result she received punishment that exceeded her crime. Her crime did not deserve to have a death sentence. Therefore, Antigone depicts most of the Aristotelian Tragic Hero characteristics, but she does not depict them all.
Oedipus represents the same characteristics as Antigone, like noble stature, good but not perfect, has an error in judgment, has a downfall, and his punishment is worse than the crime. Oedipus has noble stature; he ran the kingdom of Thebes, though he did exile himself at the end of the play. He had good intentions, yet he has flaws, like he tries to catch King Laius’ killer, but he ended up killing Laius himself. Even though fate said he would commit the crimes of killing his father and marrying his mother, he still chose to kill someone. The Shepherd acknowledges “if you are the one he says you are, make no mistake: you are a doom-born man” (Sophocles Oedipus 67). Here, the quotation points out that fate is inevitable, but he chose to kill his father. Oedipus’ choice to kill provided the characteristics of his error in judgment and his downfall. After he realizes he commits the crime he does punish himself harshly by gauging out his own eyes and by exiling himself from Thebes. These characteristics displayed by Oedipus also...

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