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Transcript of Oedipus Seminar
Chetan, Irena, Gillian, Jen & Prachi
Aristotle's Poetics and Oedipus Rex
According to Aristotle, plot is the
most important rule
of a tragedy. The plot includes all the events starting from beginning to end.
Aristotle describes plots as "the arrangement of the incidents" which must include:
A hero, misery, tying loose ends, be simple or complex
Examine how the play, Oedipus Rex, relates to the rules set up in Aristotle's Poetics, using the 6 elements of tragedy.
Aristotle is widely remembered as one of the most famous Ancient Greek philosophers to have ever lived
Aristotle was also known for establishing his own basic components of poetry, which would also include drama
These components are referred to as Aristotle’s Poetics
They are arranged from most important to least important in terms of their impact on a play
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles is the tragedy
How does this relate to
Aristotle's central idea is that the characters should not illustrate human personalities but rather to depict human action. Characters should be strong, important and virtuous.
Usually the tragedy happens to the hero and according to Aristotle's Poetics the main character should be:
Is the style of speaking or writin
g as dependent upon
choice of words.
Literary terms - symbolism, metaphor and simile.
Thought is the themes, ideas, philosophy-all intellectual aspects of the play, which is received through the dialogue.
Fourth important element in Aristotle's Poetics.
Thought releases the inner feelings of the character.
Aristotle makes implicit that thought is the stuff that defines a character, whether he is good or bad, cunning or stupid, etc.
Sophocles reveals his characters by their own speech, in monologues or asides that develop their thought processes.
According to Aristotle, Diction and Thought are related to each other
Diction reveals Thought
. Thought deals with
is said, and diction deals with
it is said.
Examples of diction...
Scar on Oedipus' ankle
Oedipus the King is the character who is continuously portrayed as good.
Well respected and courageous
Turns from happiness to misery
Learning he killed King Laius and married his mother
- Lance Armstrong
Contained a beginning, middle and end
Eventually ties all loose ends
"Why do you sit here with your suppliant crowns?"
The chorus plays many role in Oedipus Rex but the main ones are:
a mediator and moderator, an adviser and suspense
Aristotle felt that the chorus in a play should be inserted into the play as if it were one of the characters. That is the level of importance that he felt should be orchestrated with the chorus. In Oedipus, the chorus play a vital part in informing the audience of many events that occurred and also provide a further analysis of the dialogue occurring between characters. The chorus must not only be there for songs and relief.
Aristotle felt that tragedies should not rely heavily on visuals as spectacles should also be a part of the play. They include anything presented to the audience to better enhance the atmosphere.
Since the play is a Greek tragedy, when it was first performed,
it would have taken place in a Greek theater. A Greek theater
mainly consisted of four components. The first one is called the
Proskenion, which is the area the play is performed on, or the
acting area. The second one is called the Parados, which is the
entrance for the audience and cast members. The Scene is the
third component and it is the palace doors in Oedipus. Entrance
through the Scene symbolizes importance.
Oedipus: I must pursue this trail to the end,Till I have unraveled the mystery of my birth
Jocasta: Yet do not do it. I implore you do not do it.Oedipus: I must. I cannot leave the truth unknown.After knowing the truth about his birth and other prophecy.
After knowing the truth of his birth, Oedipus expressed his thought by :
Oedipus: I am the child of Fortune,The giver of good, and I shall not be shamed.She is my mother; my sisters are the Seasons;My rising and falling march with theirs.Born thus, I ask to be no other man Than that I am, and will know who I am.
"King, you yourself have seen our city reeling like a wreck already; it can scarcely lift its prow out of the depths, out of the bloody surf."
One can see through examination the relation between the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles and Aristotle's Poetics. The six elements of Poetics include plot, character, diction, thought, melody and spectacle.
"My spirit groans for the city and myself an you at once."
because he is a king that is well respected by the towns people. He is a young, noble and a strong man. All these characteristics are suitable for a king.
Oedipus is a
character because he maintains the same mindset but when the situation changes, his change of feelings is evident to the audience through dialogue.
Oedipus demonstrates a
character because his actions, thoughts, and words avoid confusion to the audience about his character traits.
"You may see them with one another, like swift birds on the wing, quicker than fire unmastered, speeding away tot he coast of the Western God."
In order for a successful tragedy, the plot is most likely to be complex
During the time of Oedipus Rex, props were used as little as possible. Special effects, like ekkyklema, were used to better portray the scene. Ekkyklema refers to a wheeled-machine which would bring dead bodies from backstage into the sight of the audience as Greek believed witnessing death was bad fortune.
Since Jocasta's death was explained, her body would not have been rolled out by the ekkyklema.
Masks allowed for portrayals of Gods and females by the actors as only males were allowed to act back then. They also allowed for gory scenes to be seen effectively, such as Oedipus' bloody eyes. Costumes played a vital role in establishing gender and social status. e.g. Oedipus was a king so he would have the best clothes as compared to the chorus, who would have the plain clothes.
Lastly, voice projection was very important as large audiences and a lack of microphones caused actors to speak loudly in order for their dialogues to be heard.
The first role is played when Oedipus and Teiresias are arguing and the chorus tells them to keep their passion under control: “We cannot see that his words are yours. Have been spoken except in anger, Oedipus And of anger we have no need. How can God’s will be accomplished best. That is what most concerned us.”
The role of an adviser is played Oedipus and Creon are arguing but the chorus tells Creon to not take the words of the king too strongly (“The thing was said; I don’t know how seriously”). The chorus also advises Oedipus to call for the Prophet Teiresias to help him. (“A lord Clairvoyant to the Lord Apollo. As we all know, is the skilled Teiresias, We might learn much about this from him, Oedipus”)
The role of suspense is created when the chorus says that the Prophet Teiresias would be able to help Oedipus in solving the mystery behind the murder of King Laius. (“But there is one man who may detect the criminal. This is Teiresias, this is holy prophet In whom, alone of all men, truth was born.”) This causes the audience to wait for the entry of the Prophet.
As Aristotle proclaimed, in order for a tragedy to be successful it must include all six rules. Oedipus Rex followed all of Aristotle's elements thus making the play thriving.