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Oedipus The King: A True Tragic Hero

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Michelle Cvornjek

on 19 October 2014

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Transcript of Oedipus The King: A True Tragic Hero

A Tragic Hero Oedipus the King Aristotle's Essential Elements of a 'Tragic Hero" How does Oedipus
fit the criteria of a tragic hero?

Let's find out! 1. The hero has a character of noble stature and has greatness. He must occupy a "high" status position and embody nobility and virtue as part of his innate character. ... small 2. The hero is pre-eminently great but not perfect. People see in him someone who is essentially like them, although, elevated to a higher position in society. 3. The hero's downfall is partially his own fault - the result of free choice - not of accident or some malignant fate. The tragedy is usually triggered by the character's hamartia, an error in judgement that contributes to the hero's lack of perfection. 4. The hero's misfortune is not wholly deserved - the punishment normally exceeds crime. 5. The hero's fall is not pure loss - he gains in self-knowledge or makes a discovery. 6. The hero must evoke in the audience a sense of pity or fear. lalala Oedipus has many excellent qualities
which are readily evident in the play He is caring and compassionate. He calls the people of Thebes, "Oh my children" (1). He is confident, powerful and strong. He pronounces himself, "Here I am myself - / you all know me, -the world knows my fame: / I am Oedipus" (7-9). He is trustworthy. "You can trust me. I am ready to help" (13). He is highly-praised, revered and well-liked. People tell him "we do rate you first of men" (41) , "you lifted up our lives" (49). He is a man of action. When the citizens grieve to him about the plague, he has already sent "Creon, / [his] wife's own brother to Delphi" (81) for advice. He is a man of high standing socially (King of Thebes), intellectually (he is the great solver of riddles) and morally (he is determined to find the murderer and end the plague on his people). Oedipus is still a mortal and is therefore imperfect, possessing flaws He is over-confident and displays hubris, daring to compare himself to the Gods. "You pray to the gods? Let me grant your prayers" (245). He is short-tempered, impulsive and tends to jump to conclusions. He becomes enraged when Tiresias refuses to share the truth and calls him "scum of the earth" (245). He irrationally accuses not only Tiresias but also Creon, his brother in law. Oedipus's error in judgement, or his tragic flaw,
led him to his own demise Hamartia: the tragic flaw or mistake that eventually leads to his downfall Oedipus's tragic flaws include his hot-temper, his impulsive behaviour and his excessive pride/hubris. His hot-temper makes him too fervent to know the truth from Tiresias, the truth that is best left uncovered. Because he is excessively proud and displays hubris as king, he believes that he must know the truth and refuses to let Tiresias go without telling him the truth. He also makes the mistake of leaving his adopted parents after hearing the prophecy. Having just been told that he will kill his father and marry his mother, and uncertain who his real parents are, Oedipus impulsively kills an older man and marries an older woman. Oedipus does not deserve his tragic misfortune as
he unknowingly took actions by mistake, unaware of the truth His crime was not out of wickedness; it was due to his ignorance about his self-identity. He did not know that King Laius was his father and Jocasta was his mother. When Tiresias talks to Oedipus about his family history, he doubts who his father is: "Parents-who? Wait...who is my father?" (498). Therefore, he does not deserve such tragic ending. Oedipus gains knowledge about his self-identity Oedipus discovers the real truth about his identity, which is seen as a gain as opposed to his tragic fall. Oedipus finally realizes who he is. He finds out that the man he has killed in the woods is King Laius, his own father, and the woman he is married to is the very same woman that gave birth to him. The paradox: now that he is blind, he sees. At the end of the play, he declares "I am Oedipus!" (1495) after discovering his own identity. He proclaims his name humbly and in shame, unlike the beginning when he shouted his name with pride and confidence. Oedipus causes feelings of pity and fear in the audience as the plot unravels Group (cc) photo by theaucitron on Flickr (cc) photo by theaucitron on Flickr copy paste branches if you need more.... Aristotle's Definition of a Tragic Hero "A virtuous man whose misfortune is brought about not by depravity, but by some error or frailty." The error or mistake is usually Hamartia, the tragic flaw that eventually leads to his downfall. Aristotle says that tragedy arouses emotions of pity or fear, and through the catharsis that comes from watching the tragic hero's terrible fate, the audience is cleansed of those emotions. The audience winces in pity at Oedipus for being so blind to the truth. The audience pities and shudders in horror and fear as Oedipus stabs his eyes out at discovering the terrible truth. "And at each stroke blood spurts from the roots, / splashing his beard, a swirl of it, nerves and clots- / black hail of blood pulsing, gushing down" (1411-1413). Dramatic Irony: the audience knows the truth while Oedipus doesn't. Therefore, Oedipus fits the criteria of a tragic hero. Discussion Questions There are many arguments as to what really was Oedipus's Hamartia.

What was Oedipus's true Hamartia? Out of the 6 aspects of Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero, which one best fits Oedipus? Why? Exactly when did Oedipus experience an anagnorisis, or a moment in the play when he makes a critical discovery? What part of the play evoked the strongest feelings of pity and/or fear for the tragic hero? Is Oedipus's misfortune solely a result of his own actions or do you believe fate played a role in his destiny? Does Oedipus possess some qualities that do not fit the definition of a tragic hero? References The hero is neither a villain nor a model of perfection but is good and decent. "Aristotle." Home Page English 112 VCCS Litonline. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. <http://vccslitonline.cc.va.us/tragedy/aristotle
"Aristotle's Tragic Terms." Welcome to Ohio University. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. <http://www.ohio.edu/people/hartleyg/ref/aristotletragedy.html>. Banks, Theodore Howard. Three Theban plays: Antigone, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus.. New York: Oxford University Press, 1956. Print. "What is Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero? - Yahoo! Answers." Yahoo! Answers - Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. Yahoo! Answers - <http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090402145906AAkAt0W>. Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. This should be evident in the play.
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