Research Paper Outline
II.ARISTOTLE AND THE TRAGIC HERO
Definition of a tragic hero
The comic hero
Comparison between a tragic and a comic hero
III.OEDIPUS AS A TRAGIC HERO
Qualities of Oedipus
The downfall of Oedipus
Factors contributing to Oedipus’ downfall
The exemplification of a tragic hero
Basedon the Critical Casebook, chapter 36, Sophocles` Oedipus refuses therelevant definition of a tragic hero as defined by the Aristotle. AsEdith Hamilton stipulates, the analysis enhanced by Aristotle provesto be both a significant and an ideal literary work that prevails upto date. In accordance to Aristotle, practical measures of creating aplot of a literary text are relatively based on the main plot itself.As such, his process of setting up a conspiracy involved the aspectsof ignorance which translated to reversal recognitions and finally toknowledge. Through such a process, the use of a practicaldemonstration of the actual life experiences implicates the creationof a plot. Through the creation of a tragic pleasure, Aristotleenhances the aspect of a tragic hero in any literary text thus makingthe hero an important character.
Onthe other hand, the play Oedipus is a story that stipulates acharacter who ends the life of his father and subsequently marrieshis mother. Despite the fact that such acts are relatively immoral,the character was not aware of the relations with the man he killedand his ‘wife` as well. Consequently, such actions of immoralitylead to anguish and suffering though in an indirect way. As such, theSophocles` Oedipus relatively refutes the definition of a tragic heroas earlier defined by Aristotle.
Aristotleand the Tragic Hero
Fairly,an individual with the noble characters and whose destruction isbased on a much greater cause relates to a tragic hero. As stated byAristotle, ‘a tragedy imitates a significant action of greatimportance which is enhanced using both fear and pity as well.`Furthermore, Aristotle proceeds to describe a tragic hero as theperson who enhances certain flaws that consequently lead to hisdownfall. Such a situation is referred to as Harmatia, by Aristotle(Clemen 12). On the other hand, Aristotle does not fail to stipulatethat a real tragic hero is also subjected to the experiences ofperipeteia. As such, peripeteia is a situation whereby the enhancedflaws of a hero translate to a reversal of fortunes. Besidessuccumbing to peripeteia and Harmatia, the real hero alsodemonstrates the engagement in the activities that facilitateself-awareness as well as enhancing knowledge.
Ontop of the tragic hero, Aristotle also describes a comic hero in hisplay. In this case, the comic hero is prone to mistakes as much asthe tragic hero. In this case, the mistakes made by the comic heroare somehow considerable than those made by the tragic hero who makesthe comic hero better that the tragic hero according to Aristotle.(Burchfield 220). Relatively, the errors perpetrated by the comichero are not structured around implicating harm to others. The comichero`s mistake inherently leads to embarrassment while in contrast tothe comic hero`s mistake, the errors of a tragic hero implicateadverse consequences among those who surround him in addition tomarking the onset of his downfall (Stanford 78). The other comparisonbetween a comic hero and a tragic hero according to Aristotle is thatthe comic hero chooses what actions to undertake so as to spark theaudience`s laughter while the tragic hero does not select his eventsand thus excludes some feelings from the public. Relatively,Aristotle relates the comic characters as those who are worthy ofcontempt and ridicule.
Oedipusas a Tragic Hero
Accordingto Sophocles, the Oedipus possesses the characteristics of a hero whobears gold-like qualities. Through such qualities, the people ofThebes worship the Oedipus as they believe that he ascended fromheaven. Technically, Oedipus is the god of the population of Thebes(Burchfield 168). Moreover, these people turn to Oedipus fordirection and advice. As such, the people of Thebes are oblivious oftheir past events and replace their life implications with Oedipus`life. Oedipus is not only a king, but he is also a person of noblecharacter. Moreover, his actions determine the pace for his fate.Although his fate is relatively underserved, his life crumbles whichproves that Oedipus actions translated to the occurrence of tragicevents that engulfed his life. Technically, Oedipus, Sophocles play,refutes the definition of a tragic hero as defined by Aristotle.
Theaspect of being a tragic hero for Oedipus is based on the sufferingand the consequences enhanced by his actions in various ways. One ofthe ways in which Oedipus encounters suffering is through learningthe truth that the man was his biological father. In this case,Oedipus forces Teiresias to reveal his dad`s name to him as well ashis destiny (Cawthom 3). However, Teiresias evades the topic ofdiscussion as he proceeds to warn him against forcing him to revealsuch details. Adamantly determined to learn the truth, Oedipuscontinues to insist thus continuing to question Teiresias further.With no other option at hand, Teiresias the fact that he hadstruggled to keep from Oedipus telling him that he murdered the kingwhose murderer he sought. Eventually, Oedipus is in a position todwell in the painful truth.
Basedon Aristotle`s play, he introduces the aspect of recognition. In thiscase, Aristotle describes identification as a process that involves acharacter making a revelation that he was not aware of. In mostcases, the announcement translates to the discovery of one’s self.As such, through revelation one, the tragic hero, in this case, issubjected to proving his identity thus enhancing the family relationsor else determining his family (Burchfield 176). In such an instance,Oedipus exemplifies a tragic hero after receiving the revelation ofhis true identity. On this note, Oedipus comes to the realizationthat a mother gave away her child for destruction and that childturns out to be him. After experiencing a revelation, Aristotlestates that the tragic hero goes into a reversal. As such, a reversalis an action that bears the direct opposite effect to the intendedone.
Followingthe revelation that he is the child given away by the mother, Oedipusconsequently succumbs to the suffering of the reversal of hismisfortunes. Under the prevalence of such a suffering, Oedipus loseshis eyesight which leads to his sentence to exile on top of beingdethroned (Halliwell 43). The other instance where reversal occurs iswhen one of the messengers is sent to cheer up Oedipus. The agent`sefforts to cheer him up are based on the false revelation thatnullified the applicable prophecy which had stated that Oedipus wouldmarry his mother after killing his father. In this case, themessenger claimed that the prophecy was unreliable since Oedipus` daddied of old age. Following such an untrue revelation, Oedipus becomesconcerned and fearful on the news that Polybus was not his biologicalfather.
Inhis quest to finding the real killer of King Laios, Oedipus alsoenhances the exemplification of his character as a tragic hero.During this time, the city was faced with a significant drought.According to Teiresias` prophecy, the drought would end following thedetermination of King Laios` murderer. Committed to finding thekiller, Oedipus makes relevant legislations regarding the mysteriousmurderer. As such, Oedipus forbids anyone with information thatprotects the murderer (Harris 34). Unfortunately, such a declarationfalls on his side after it was revealed that he was the mysteriouskiller.
Afterthe disclosure, Oedipus fell into denial as he enhanced thedemonstration of both pride and arrogance. The King thought ofhimself as an exceptional individual and would not have done suchinhumane malpractices. However, with time he realized that he is thecause of the curse in the city, although, at a technical point ofview, Oedipus is not to blame for marrying his mother and killing hisfather. In this case, it was not his ignorance that led to the plaguebut the untold suffering. The pity from the readers emerges in thefact-finding King Laios` murderer was in pursuit of ending the city`sdrought plague which on the contrary led to his self-destructionbased on suffering and pain.
Evidently,the Oedipus by Sophocles exemplifies Aristotle`s definition. Thisdefinition rests on a tragic hero. All the characteristics involvedin Aristotle`s play are relatively included in the classic tragedyincorporated in the Oedipus story. The first exemplification aspectis the prevalence of Harmatia whereby Oedipus marries his motherafter killing his father. Subsequently, it is his inquisitivenessthat translates to the realization of the truth. The revelation turnsout to be fatal based on the facts about his parents. On the otherhand, there is also the aspect of peripeteia whereby the discovery ofhis incest-based relationship reciprocates to his significant fallfrom grace to shame. Technically, the Oedipus refuses as well asexemplifying Aristotle`s definition of a tragic hero.
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Halliwell,Stephen. "Unity of art without unity of life? A question aboutAristotle’s theory of tragedy." AttiAccademia Pontaniana, Supplemento 61(2012): 25-40.
Harris,Geraldine. "A return to form? Postmasculinist television dramaand tragic heroes in the wake of The Sopranos." NewReview of Film and Television Studies 10.4(2012): 443-463.
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