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Transcript of Oedipus Rex
There are some key requirements that each character must meet in order to fulfill a certain role in a perfect tragedy. In the beginning, Oedipus, the king, is looked up to by the distraught citizens of the city of Thebes. Since Oedipus had once saved the people of the city by solving the Sphinx’s riddle, they now look to him to provide solutions to their problems. When the plague ravages the city, the people plead for help from Oedipus and he is determined to find a solution. Quality #1: "Good or Fine" Quality #2: Propriety
"Fitness of Character" (True to Type) Quality #3: "True to Life"
(True to Type) According to Aristotle, characters in the ideal Greek tragedy should be ‘true to life’ or realistic. This sense of genuineness (in reactions, emotion, etc.) in the characters help create empathetic connections between the character and the reader.
The realistic actions of a character also helps direct the plot in a believable, relatable direction. Quality #5: "Necessary or Probable" Characters in
qualities: “The second thing to aim at is propriety. There is a type of manly valor; but valor in a woman, or unscrupulous cleverness is inappropriate.”
- Aristotle’s Theory of Tragedy Quality #6:
"True To Life And Yet More Beautiful" Quality #4: "Consistency"
(True to Themselves) "Be as happy as you can - Happier...than God has made [me]" (lines 1474-75) “O mighty power, we turn to you: find us safety, find us a remedy” (lines 43-44) Introduction Main characters’ actions and motives should inspire empathy in the audience. Their actions must also contribute to cause-and-effect, each choice taking a part in the progression of the storyline. The protagonist must have a change of fortune from the beginning of the play to their end. Their hardship invokes pity and fear in the audience. Their downfall should also be brought about by their own mistake (called hamartia – “fatal flaw, or mistake”), not because they are sinful or immoral, but because they are ignorant. Their actions may bring about the opposite of their intent, creating tragic irony. At the end of the play, the protagonist should receive the knowledge they were previously lacking, in the process called anagnorisis. In Oedipus Rex, these characteristics are displayed in Oedipus and Jocasta.
In the play, Oedipus unknowingly brings about his own downfall and begins to realise this when the Oracle informs him that Laios’ killer is in fact Oedipus himself. The only way to then eradicate the plague from the city is to have Oedipus banished. However, here you can see Oedipus’ fatal flaw, his hamartia, as he refuses to believe the words of the gods and looks to find an alternate solution, which in turn leads to his own downfall. Jocasta, as well, underestimated the power of the fates when she was told that her own son Oedipus would later murder his father and marry his mother. Refusing to accept this, she abandoned her child hoping that it would change her fate. However, she could not avoid destiny and ended her own life due to her guilt. Near the end of the play, Jocasta begins to realise the truth before Oedipus, and tries to convince him to stop questioning the shepherd, who had been threatened by Oedipus to reveal the truth. Finally, when the facts were brought to light, pity is invoked in the audience for Oedipus’ ignorance, and also fear for his future, as the end of the play only suggests and doesn’t blatantly state his demise. When Oedipus finds out the truth, he feels anguish and remorse, which leads to him gouging out his own eyes, therefore “cleansing” himself of his wrongdoing through his own suffering. Knowing the truth at last put him through anagnorisis, and concludes Sophocles’ play. According to Aristotle, characters in a tragedy should be “Good or Fine”
Aristotle relates this quality to moral purpose and says that it is relative to class. “Even a woman may be good, and also a slave, though the woman may be said to be an inferior being and the slave quite worthless.” – Aristotle’s Theory of Tragedy "I must be exiled, and even in exile never see my parents,
never set foot on native ground again."
-Oedipus (621) "Quickly, for the love of god, hide me somewhere, kill me,
hurl me into the sea where you can never look on me again."
– Oedipus “Poor children! You may be sure I know
All that you longed for in you coming here.
I know you are deathly sick; and yet,
Sick as you are, not one is as sick as I.
Each of you suffers in himself alone
His anguish, not another’s; but my spirit
Groans for the city, for myself, for you.”
-Oedipus, Prologue, 365, lines 60-66 "Quickly, for the love of god, hide me somewhere, kill me, hurl me into the sea where you can never look on me again."
– Oedipus (637) “You shall see how I stand by you, as I should,
Avenging this country and the god as well,
And not as though it were for some distant friend, But for my own sake, to be rid of evil.”
-Oedipus, Prologue, 367, lines 138-141 “No, but I came by, Oedipus the ignorant,
I stopped the Sphinx! With no help from the birds, the flight of my own intelligence hit the mark.” -Oedipus The best type of tragic hero exists "between these extremes . . . a person who is neither perfect in virtue and justice, nor one who falls into misfortune through vice and depravity, but rather, one who succumbs through some miscalculation"
-Aristotle Another quality a character in tragedy
should have is “consistency”.
This means that once it’s personality, motivations, goals etc. are established,
they should stay that way
throughout the play. Aristotle believed that the actions of characters in a tragedy must follow “the law of probability or necessity”.
This means that their actions must seem reasonable and justified to us, based on what we know about human nature. In Oedipus Rex, fear is what drives the characters to do what they do. •When Oedipus first hears of the prophecy from Delphi, he fleas his home in Corinth, hoping to avoid the dreaded words predicting that he would “lie with [his] own mother, breed children from whom all men would turn their eyes; and that [he] should be [his] father’s murderer” (759-761) •We find out later on that Oedipus’s true parents sent him away as a baby “in dread of prophecies” (1126). • These acts of fear are easily understood because the characters are simply trying to prevent horrible things from happening Later, Oedipus’s curiosity about wanting to know the truth is natural. When he is so close to knowing what really happened, it is to be expected that he does whatever it takes to get the shepherd to tell him what he remembers. In the end, Iokastê hangs herself and Oedipus scratches out his eyes, saying “No more shall you look on the misery about me” (1239), and though their actions are extreme, we can understand why they choose to punish themselves. It is natural to let regret and guilt guide us in situations of grief. Oedipus is a good example of a character in a Greek tragedy who is true to life, when his actions are considered: “Tell me, and never doubt that I will help you in every way I can” (13-14) -Oedipus, when the townsfolk ask for his help in purging the city “Sick as you are, not one is as sick as I. Each of you suffers in himself alone...but my spirit groans for the city"
“And I weep for you...when I think of the bitterness that men will visit upon you all your lives” (1448-1450)
-Oedipus, while saying goodbye to his daughters, after blinding himself Bibliography "I was not sleeping, you are not waking me. No, I have been in tears for a long while" (67-68) "I am not wasting time : Kreon spoke of this, and I have sent for him." (274-275) "Drive me out of this country as quickly as may be, to a place where no human voice can ever greet me." (1401-1402) Sophocles. "Oedipus Rex." 1982. Trans. Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. The Heath Introduction to Literature. By Alice S. Landy and Dave Martin. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and, 1980. 363-406. Print.
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Johnston, Ian, trans. Oedipus Rex. Johnstonia. Sept. 2012. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. <http://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/index.htm>. Oedipus Rex "O god-all come true, all burst to light! O light-now let me look my last on you! I stand revealed at last-cursed in my birth, cursed in marriage, cursed in the lives I cut down with these hands!"
– Oedipus (1309-1311) "You, you'll see no more the pain I suffered, all the pain I caused! Too long you looked on the ones you never should have seen, blind to the ones you longed to see, to know! Blind from this hour on! Blind in the darkness-blind!"
– Oedipus (1402-1422) THE END "Ah, so it all came true. It’s so clear now.
O light, let me look at you one final time,
a man who stands revealed as cursed by birth, cursed by my own family, and cursed
by murder where I should not kill."
(Oedipus Rex, 1418-1422) Do you know the family you come from?Without your knowledge you’ve become the enemy of your own kindred
(Oedipus Rex, 499-501) Besides, before our child was three days old,Laius fused his ankles tight togetherand ordered other men to throw him outon a mountain rock where no one ever goes.And so Apollo’s plan that he’d become the one who killed his father didn’t work,
and Laius never suffered what he feared,
that his own son would be his murderer,
although that’s what the oracle had claimed.
(Oedipus Rex, 862-870) JOCASTA: In the name of the gods, no! If you have some concern for your own life, then stop!
Do not keep investigating this.
I will suffer—that will be enough.
(Oedipus Rex, 1268-1271) Ah, so it all came true. It’s so clear now.
O light, let me look at you one final time,
a man who stands revealed as cursed by birth,
cursed by my own family,and cursed
by murder where I should not kill.
(Oedipus Rex, 1418-1422)