Oedipus Rex Essay

Death and heartbreak, both two very tragic things that could happen in your life, but what makes these things tragic? According to Aristotle there are many elements to a tragic tale. Oedipus Rex lives up to all of them. The reader knows how serious Oedipus’s actions are, how complete they are, and how high his fall is. A tragedy by definition is a drama which imitates an important and casually related series of events in the life of a significant person, such events ending in an unhappy catastrophe.

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The Greek tragedies are plays based on myths which were well known and enjoyed by audiences. Most of the plays contain certain elements that Aristotle identified. A few of the elements of tragedy based on Aristotle’s definition are: tragedies are an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and it has to be of a huge magnitude. Oedipus Rex has every one of these elements in his tragic story. Oedipus was proud more than a normal human being.

He wanted to rise from normal and hence he finally achieves the dream when he saves Thebes.

His character shows his confidence and intelligence. He proclaimed himself to be better and smarter than the gods and this is where his tragic flaw destroys him. Oedipus makes the mistakes of killing his father, marrying his mother, and saying he will banish the killer Laius. “Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude”. Oedipus’s actions were very serious. Killing someone is one of the most serious actions a human can do. His actions are complete in there nature, meaning there is no way to undo the wrongs that have been done.

Oedipus can not bring his father back from the dead; he can not turn back the clock and not marry the widowed woman. Oedipus’s fall is of the highest magnitude, he is up on a pedestal because of his previous actions. He was the only man to solve the sphinx’s riddle and save the city of Thebes from the monster, and for this they loved him, he even became their king. Aristotle says that a tragic hero must be an important and a influential person who makes an error in judgment of high magnitude, and who must then suffer the consequences of his actions.

Those actions are also seen when Oedipus forces Teiresias to reveal his destiny and his father’s name. When Teiresias tries to warn him by saying “I say that you and your most dearly loved are wrapped together in a hideous sin, blind to the horror of it” (Sophocles 428); Oedipus still does not care and proceeds with his questioning as if he did not care what Teiresias was saying. The tragic hero must learn a lesson from his errors in judgment and become an example to the audience of what happens when great men fall from their pedestals.

However this is the point where the audience starts to pity Oedipus and his fate, one of Aristotle’s elements of tragedy. Oedipus’s decision to question the advice of the seer is wrong; his arrogance blinded him and, therefore, his fate is not deserved, but it all is far beyond his control. A prophecy is foretold to Laius, the father of Oedipus, that the destiny of Oedipus is a terrible one beyond his control. But when it is prophesized to Oedipus, he leaves the city of the people he thought where his parents in order to prevent this terrible fate from coming true.

Oedipus’s destiny is not deserved because he is being punished for his parent’s actions. His birth parents sought the advice of the Delphi Oracle, who told Laius that he would die by his son’s hand. When the boy is born, Laius is overcome with fear when he remembers the oracle. Oedipus is abandoned by his birth parents and is denied their love. At the end of the play Oedipus realizes that when he relies on his status, he is blind, not physically, but emotionally. Later, after his mental blinding, Oedipus sees his actions as wrongdoing and decides to physically blind himself.

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