This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Cycle Of Heroic Virtue In Samson Agonistes And Oedipus Rex

1813 words - 7 pages

Samson and Oedipus, protagonists of two prominent works of Western literary canon, have dominated many intellectual discourses for centuries. Countless analyses of Oedipus' plight have been made, the most well-known being that of Sigmund Freud, while Samson's actions have been reinterpreted in various ways ranging from that of a martyr to that of a relentless terrorist. However, all those interpretive readings analyzed only the identity of the heroes or their actions. Oedipus's "particular nature" from Freud's point of view focused merely on the 'personality with instinctive drives', while scholars like Hill or Carey only paid attention to the ethical dilemma of Samson: whether he is a regenerate deliverer or degenerate revenger. In general, they all neglected the interplay between action and heroic identity, which is crucial to comprehend the relevant tragedies. This interplay propels the question whether the protagonists were heroes by themselves, thus acting virtuously or the virtuous actions turned the protagonists into heroes. The answer, on the other hand, involves a rather cyclic, interdependent relationship that exists between the deeds and individuality of the heroes. This cycle, which we might call "heroic virtue cycle", divulges in fact the essential teaching of the texts that is tightly connected to the relevant historical contexts.To understand this cyclic connection, first it is necessary to highlight the initial events that proved Oedipus and Samson were heroes. Both have saved their community from severe crises: a plague initiated by Sphinx and the rage of the Philistines, respectively. They demonstrated great intellectual or physical aptitude by solving the riddle and defeating the Philistines. Hence, their society started respecting them as virtuous, illustrious characters, evident in the speech of the priest, a significant person in Sophocles' era: "Oedipus, our greatest power...we rate you first of men" (16, 41) Oedipus is the role-model, the mighty leader. Similarly, in Samson Agonistes, the chorus, which represents the communal voice, discloses its adoration to Samson's superiority by calling him "heroic, irresistible, strongest of mental men, the glory late of Israel" (125-6, 168, 179) By the same token, it is evident that the main characters' roles as saviors stem from divine providence and not personal superiority. It was part of Oedipus' inevitable destiny to be the king of Thebes by solving the riddle, because otherwise he could never fulfill the prophecy of marrying his mother. On the other hand, Samson was born to fulfill "his part from heaven assigned" that is "to free his country". (Samson, 1211-9) Samson knew that he was the hero of Israeli society, since he owned the great strength from birth on.Although the protagonists' virtuous rise sprang from their initially determined heroic identity, they could not maintain their position with the same divine support. They fell from grace "to the lowest pitch of abject...

Find Another Essay On The Cycle of Heroic Virtue in Samson Agonistes and Oedipus Rex

Significance of the Women in Oedipus Rex

2769 words - 11 pages Significance of the Women in Oedipus Rex            Michael J. O’Brien in the Introduction to Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, maintains that there is “a good deal of evidence to support this view” that the fifth century playwright was the “educator of his people” and a “teacher”. Sophocles in his tragedy, Oedipus Rex, teaches about “morally desirable attitudes and behavior,” (4) and uses three women to help convey these

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 Heroic Cycle in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

2291 words - 9 pages What does it mean to be a hero in an exciting fantasy adventure? The bigger question is who would not want to be the hero of their own story? In the fantasy genre, these heroes are given the typical heroic tropes that go beyond the gender norm of saving a damsel in distress and fairy tale archetypes. For students, this could be known as “The Heroic Cycles” that are often found in the fantasy genre (Thomas 60). The hero “is usually an orphan

Heroic Virtue in Othello

2038 words - 8 pages Heroic Virtue in Othello         William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello puts on exhibit an obvious hero and other not-so-obvious heroes. Let us examine them all in this essay.   The supreme type of hero in this play did not occur overnight to the playwright. Rather he slowly built upon one hero after another in his plays until his work culminated in the Moor. A. C. Bradley, in his book of literary criticism, Shakespearean Tragedy

The Theme of Oedipus Rex

913 words - 4 pages In Greek mythology, one of the major themes is the importance of fate and free will. The story of Oedipus Rex is a perfect example that shows this theme. The major theme explored in Oedipus Rex is that fate and free will are intertwined with the main character, Oedipus. Oedipus is not only fated to perform such detestable acts, but his infamous behavior (which leads him to commit these terrible acts) determines his fate. The crimes that he

The Incarnation of the Theory of Tragedy in Oedipus Rex

993 words - 4 pages ground on which the theory of tragedy is based. Actually Aristotle lays the foundations for the critical study of drama in his Poetics by drawing on Sophocles' plays most of the time, especially on Oedipus Rex. It is a fact clearly evident from this contextual standpoint that Oedipus Rex and consequently Oedipus, the hero of the play, serve as the most original incarnation--typical example--of the theory of tragedy. So the point now is whether or

Pride and the Tragic Hero in Oedipus Rex and Othello

1225 words - 5 pages Pride and the Tragic Hero in Oedipus Rex and Othello     Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Most proud people will never consider themselves to be truly proud until they come face to face with the consequences of their pride. Sophocles and Shakespeare both address this dilemma in their plays Oedipus Rex and Othello. Through their nobility, their tragic flaws, the fall these flaws cause, and the suffering and wisdom they derive from

Comparing and Contrasting the Purpose of Self-Punishment in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Ibsen's Hedda Gabler

1356 words - 5 pages person’s differences as well as their characteristics, leaving others to infer the purpose of their actions and this can be shown in both Hedda Gabler –to prove that she was not a coward and was in control of her own life- and Oedipus Rex-to demonstrate that he was blinded by the truth and that being ignorant has harsh punishment. Works Cited Henrik Ibsen. Hedda Gabler. Trans. Edmug Gosse and William Archer. Stilwell, KS: Publishing, 2005. Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Trans. Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. The Oedipus Cycle. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovish, 1976. 3-78.

The Evolution of Tragedy in Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Desire Under the Elms

1510 words - 6 pages distinct and great time period. [very good pick-up of earlier point] Without the evolution of these ideas, cultures would be stifled in the creative process and not stand out as an individual expressing the feelings of their time period. Works Consulted: O'Neill, Eugene. Desire Under the Elms. In Nine Plays by Eugene O'Neill. New York: Modern Library, 1941. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet. ca. 1600-1601. Ed. Edward Hubler. A Signet Classic. New York: Penguin Publishers,1963. Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. The Oedipus Cycle. Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald, trans. San Diego: Harvest, 1976

The Importance of the Chorus in Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex"

1362 words - 5 pages "Oedipus Rex", written by Sophocles takes place in the city of Thebes. The chorus within the play represents, for the most part, the people of Thebes, giving them a significant role in the play. There are several specific purposes for which the chorus is utilized. These include providing the audience with background information and summaries of recent events, allowing for scene changes, entrances and exits and indicating the passage of time

tragoed Metamorphosis of the Tragedy in Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Desire Under the Elms

806 words - 3 pages Metamorphosis of the Tragedy in Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Desire Under the Elms Tragedy is considered by many to be the greatest of the genres. Often something goes wrong and exposes something great. Characters generally have more depth as evidenced by Hamlet. Tragedy shows up in the great periods of history: Classical Greece, Renaissance, and the early 20th century. It is a far more complex genre than comedy or romance. It teaches

Similar Essays

The Characters Of Samson And Dalila In Milton's Samson Agonistes

2618 words - 10 pages The Characters Of Samson And Dalila in Milton's Samson Agonistes      The character of Dalila is first described by Samson, in his opening dialogue with the Chorus, as "that specious Monster, my accomplish'd snare." He also later describes her as "fallacious, unclean, unchaste". Thus when she finally appears in person, the reader is perhaps surprised to hear the Chorus uses a simile of a pulchritudinous ship to describe Dalila, "so

The Role Of Faith And The Gods In Oedipus Rex

1947 words - 8 pages A common struggle man faces is the question of who or what has power and control over his life. Does he have total control of his future, or is there a higher being at work that takes human lives into their own hands? Sophocles, in his work Oedipus Rex, establishes a view that gives fate, which is created by the gods, a seemingly inescapable characteristic over man. The role of fate is clearly defined, through the fulfillment of divine

Fate And The Circunstancial Downfall Of Character In Oedipus Rex

698 words - 3 pages treatment of Goneril, and Regan. The play “Oedipus Rex” and other tragedies that were held throughout the Greek Theatre Era can be considered a forerunner in the consequential downfall labeling of the themes used in the plays of tragedy.

The Role Of Fate In Oedipus Rex

785 words - 4 pages Fate plays a very important role in Oedipus Rex as it is clearly inescapable and is not subject to change by free will, or even the will of the Gods. We learn of the prophecy given to Laius and Jocasta that their son will kill his father and marry his mother. Upon the birth of Oedipus, Laius and Jocasta send for a shepherd to come and take him away to be killed so that the prophecy cannot be fulfilled. Throughout the story we are continually