The Incarnation Of The Theory Of Tragedy In Oedipus Rex

993 words - 4 pages

Oedipus' character is labyrinthine in the sense that it raises controversies; many readers and critics might look at Oedipus as a hero who is doomed to his tragic end by misfortune and fate rather than by his tragic flaws. At first blush, this looks like a drawback that is enough to render the play inappropriate for an original model of the theory of tragedy. However, as a matter of fact Sophocles' plays contribute much to the formation of the 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 not Oedipus' has a multi-dimensional and controversial character does not alter the validity of the aforementioned fact, that Oedipus Rex is a model tragedy, simply because of three reasons: First, Oedipus still retains much of the characteristics of tragic heroes, like his noble origin and also position, goodness especially as a king, tragic flaws and irreversible mistakes. Second, the issue of fate, on which the controversiality of Oedipus is based, is to be taken from a special perspective where the age of mythology is taken into consideration. Third, if we are to admit that Oedipus' tragic end is doomed by fate, then this will functionally enrich the play as a tragedy rather than devaluate it.

Oedipus is endowed mostly all tragic characteristics that qualify him for a model tragic hero. He is the son of the queen Iokaste and King Laios, which affirms his noble origin. He also has super yet earthly qualities and deeds as we see him solve the riddle of the Sphinx intelligently and save the people of Thebes. Oedipus moreover and from the beginning of the play occupies a highly esteemed position as a king who is good to his loving people whom he kindly addresses, "Children, I would not have you speak through messengers." (lines 7-8) His personal qualities are eminent enough to make his fall very catastrophic when it occurs. When it comes to flaws, Oedipus is rich of them. He, for instance, unknowingly kills his father imprudently at a moment of rage without a having a good reason. He is also rash and non-meditative in his accusation of Tiresias and Kreon with the murder of king Laios. Oedipus also suddenly turns to a cruel king when the fact of his birth is almost revealed and thus we see him threaten the shepherd that took him when he was a baby by saying, "come, speak plainly or it will go hard with you." (1087) It is worth saying in this context that many of Oedipus' mistakes are...

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