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Oedipus the Tragic Hero


answers: 5
Jan 19, 2009, 05:46pm   #
I was given a quote by Aristotle, a tragic hero is "such a person who neither is superior [to us] in virtue and justice, nor undergoes a change to misfortune because of vice and wickedness, but because of some error, and who is one of those people with a great reputation and good fortune."

and then a the question is why does aristotle think it important that the tragic hero of drama be such a person? you should illustrate your answer by reference to Sophocles's play Oedipus the King. In addition how does the element of dramatic irony come into focus as a technique to highlight the tragedy of Oedipus.

Heres what i have so far, its around 2 pages doubled spaced and i need at least 5 pages. im currently stuck on what else to write and put in my paper. help would be appreciated..and please note if you spot any grammatical errors :)

Aristotle defines Oedipus as a tragic hero for his unfortunate sequence of events. As a child, Oedipus was given a prophecy that he was to grow up marrying his mother and slaying his father. Jocasta and Laius try to impede the prophecy by killing Oedipus, but in the end, fate was the ultimate victor. Aristotle defines a tragic hero by four qualities: goodness, appropriateness, lifelike, and consistency (Aristotle's Tragic Hero). According to Aristotle, Oedipus is an ideal example of a tragic hero for causing his own downfall, having fallen from his estate, and having an undeserved punishment (sheet).
Because Oedipus is a tragic hero, he makes an error due to human fallibility and ends up suffering as a consequence. Free will and fallibility have caused Oedipus to wander down the path where he will fulfill his prophecy. As a result, "his downfall results from acts for which he is himself is responsible" (Sheet).
According to Aristotle, because Oedipus was born to nobility "his high estate gives him a place of dignity to fall from and perhaps makes his fall seem all the more a calamity in that it involves an entire nation or people" (Sheet). Although Oedipus is a king and should be setting examples for society, he has major flaws such as pride and rage. Oedipus is easily angered and lashed out at Tiresias when he told him that he is his own murder. Before he could get any explanations, Oedipus sent Tiresias away in a fit of rage because his pride made him unwilling to accept the truth. Oedipus had also acted similarly in Corinth when a drunkard had told him Polybus and Merope were not his real parents. His rage resulted in the death of Laius and his men. These flaws show that Oedipus acts on instinct and makes brash decisions. Oedipus also bears the characteristic of being stubborn and eventually forces the truth of his past out of several shepherds. It is also because of characteristics that lead him to his downfall. "And I must hear it. But hear it I will." (Knox 87). His moment of realization is the start of his suffering. Like a responsible King, Oedipus does not commit suicide, but instead gauges his eyes out and banishes himself from the city of Thebes. Oedipus takes responsibility as king and does not want his children shunned upon. As a consequence, Oedipus will live the rest of his life in blindness, a punishment far worse than what he had deserved.
The theme of light and dark plays an essential role in dramatic irony. In search of seeking for the truth, Oedipus was ignorant and refused to believe Tiresias. Ironically, Tiresias is physically blind, and Oedipus is metaphorically blind. When Oedipus had vision he was in the dark for not knowing of his past. However, when Oedipus blinded himself, he was brought from the darkness into the light because he finally knew of his destiny. "O God! It has all come true. Light, let this be the last time I see you. I stand revealed born in shame, married in shame, an unnatural murderer" (Knox 89). To Oedipus, not being able to see the truth metaphorically is the same as not being able to see physically. By blinding himself, he has forced himself to see everything from a different point of view.
Jan 19, 2009, 06:59pm   #
"Aristotle defines Oedipus as a tragic hero for his unfortunate sequence of events."

How can this be when Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero is: "such a person who neither is superior [to us] in virtue and justice, nor undergoes a change to misfortune because of vice and wickedness, but because of some error, and who is one of those people with a great reputation and good fortune."

Aristotle is essentially saying that a tragic hero is a person who is not perfect. The tragic hero is rich and famous; usually a noble. The tragic hero's downfall is not because of fate, but instead a misjudgment or an error in the tragic hero's character. - you obviously got that from reading the rest of your essay.


"Jocasta and Laius try to impede the prophecy by killing Oedipus, but in the end, fate was the ultimate victor."

Did they really tried to kill him? If so, then instead of trying to get rid of Oedipus by giving him to a servant or a shepherd (I forgot) they should have killed him on the spot. Elaborate a bit, how was fate the ultimate victor?

"His rage resulted in the death of Laius and his men."

I think you need to tell the reader how did his rage resulted in the death of Laius and his men and its significant.

"It is also because of characteristics that lead him to his downfall."

Sentence fragment.

You have some good ideas, but this essay is really hard to follow. Definitely needs some work on organization.

Good luck!
Jan 19, 2009, 09:18pm   #
thank you, i fixed it... but im still stuck on what else to write. i have absolutely 0 ideas with 3 pages left to write
Jan 20, 2009, 01:24am   #
You might want to talk about how the tragic hero often (though not always) suffers from a flaw that, in other circumstances, might be a virtue. In many cases, the very character traits that won the hero his reputation and fortune are the ones that doom him. So, in Oedipus's case, he is doomed for his persistence, his determination to save his city, and his insistence on learning the truth. These are the very qualities that make him a good ruler. In this particular case, though, he should back off, because the truth is something he can't handle. The gods themselves indicate he should back off, and so he supposedly falls into the trap of hubris by persisting, but the real point is that, given his nature, backing off was never really an option for him, whatever the gods may have indicated.
Before you start telling about the story, give a succinct answer to the question. Why is it important that the tragic hero of drama be this kind of person? I believe the answer has something to do with enabling the audience to IDENTIFY with the protagonist, that tragic hero. The purpose of the assignment is to see if you can understand the statement by Aristotle, I think, and the reason Shakespeare abides by it... and perhaps the reason other writers should abide by it.

The point is not to explain the plot of the story. Do you understand the quote and know the answer to the question? Google the quote by Aristotle in order to find discussions of it. Try putting parts of the quote inside " " marks.

Good luck!!! :)
Jan 20, 2009, 04:46pm   #
thank you!! this helps a lot :)....im almost done, only like a page and a half left



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