10/22/2011

OEDIPUS A TRAGIC HERO

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Oedipus a Tragic Hero


According to Aristotle’s in the Poetics, certain characteristics must be met in order for the audience to be able to identify a tragic hero. First of all, a tragic hero must cause his own destruction; his punishment must be bigger than his crime. Secondly, a tragic hero must be a nobleman and have greatness or power. Finally the audience must feel sympathy and fear for the hero. I think based on these characteristics; Oedipus could definitely be considered a tragic hero. An Oracle told Oedipus that he would kill his father and marry he is mother. Oedipus trying to run from his own destiny decides to move to Thebes. On his way to Thebes, Oedipus kills a man, not knowing that this man he had just murdered was his biological father. In Thebes everybody is excited because Oedipus had just killed the Sphinx and as a token of their appreciation they make Oedipus the king and he gets to marry Jocasta, his biological mother. Oedipus doesn’t realize that murdering this man and marrying Jocasta he has just fulfilled the prediction of the Oracle.


First of all, we can see Oedipus cause his own destruction when he starts looking for the person that killed Laius and went he starts digging into his own past. There was a plague in Thebes and Oedipus sends Creon to consult the oracle so they can finally end this plague. The oracle tells him that the plague comes because of an unpunished murder. Oedipus seeks for Teiresias help to find Lauis murderer. Oedipus doesn’t know that Teiresias knows who his parents really are and that the murdered that his looking for is himself. Oedipus starts questioning Teiresias, when Teiresias tells him that he is the killer Oedipus refuses to believe him. A messenger comes to inform Oedipus that his father Polybus had died and that they wanted Oedipus to become the king of Corinth. Oedipus is relieved to hear that Polybus had died because now there’s no way that prophecy can be realized. The messenger tells Oedipus that Polybus and Merope where not his real parents and he proceeds to tell him what happened when Oedipus was a baby. Oedipus sends for the shepherd after he founds out that the shepherd was the one that gave Oedipus to Polybus and Merope. When Oedipus talks to the shepherd, he realized that he couldn’t escape from his own destiny.


Secondly, there are a couple of instances that show us that Oedipus was a nobleman and a man of great power. Oedipus is the son of Laius and Jcasta, the King and Queen of Thebes, his parents where loyalty. He also believed he was the son of Polybus and Merope, the King and Queen of Corinth. Finally the people of Thebes respect Oedipus when he solves the riddle of the Sphinx and finally gets rid of this monster that was terrorizing the people of Thebes. We can see that in different senses he was a noble man and the people admired him.


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One of the last characteristics a tragic hero must have is that the audience must feel sympathy and fear for the hero. We can see this happen when Oedipus finally realizes that he had killed his father and that the women he has married was really his mother. We can also see this when Oedipus runs to get Jocasta and he realizes that she has killed herself. It is also very sad and tragic when Oedipus takes his eyes out. The fact that he chooses to take his eyes out instead of just killing himself, I think is what provokes that feeling of sympathy and fear from the audience.


In conclusion when I think about that tragic heroes, Oedipus always come to mind first. I love this story because it shows how you can’t escape your own destiny. I also believed that according to Aristotle’s characteristics of what makes a tragic hero, Oedipus has all of these characteristics. It is horrible the fate that awaits Oedipus and the truth is it wasn’t his fault that he was born in that situation. The only thing that he wanted to do was find out the truth of his past and of Lauis killer. Little did he know he was setting himself and his family for a horrifying ending. Oedipus left Thebes with his daughters and he lived blind for a few years before he finally died.


Bibliography


1. The Internet Classics Archive. “Poetics by Aristotle”


http classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/poetics.1.1.html (8 June 00)


. Greek Myths- Oedipus


http//www.users.globalnet.co.uk/-loxias/myth.htm (1June 00)


. ClassicNotes About Oedipus Rex/Oedipus the King


http// www.classicnote.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/Oedipus/about.html (1 June 00)


4. CISt- Greek Tragedy


http//www.classics.upenn.edu/myth/tragedy/oedhero.php (6 June 00)





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