Analysis of Euripides' Medea and Sophocles' Oedipus Rex

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Analysis of Euripides' Medea and Sophocles' Oedipus Rex

Greek tragedies are some of the most compelling and interesting works of literature. The plot usually follows a common patten in which a heroic lead meets an unhappy or catastrophic end. This end is usually brought about by some fatal flaw of character, circumstances beyond his or her control, or by sheer destiny. In Medea, a tragedy written by Euripides, the focus is on conflict in human spirit between Medea’s love for her children and the desire for revenge. The story of Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles, is very different and more complex. He uses dramatic irony and close comparison to make the audience think and to try to figure out the meanings behind the words. By closely analyzing the plays of Medea and Oedipus Rex one can see that Oedipus Rex is the better of the these two Greek tragedies.

According to Aristotle, “Tragedy is a representation of an action that is worth serious attention, complete in itself, and of some amplitude: in language enriched by a variety of artistic devices appropriate to the several parts of the play; presented in the form of action, not narration; by means of pity and fear bringing about the purgation of such emotions.” Three parts of the play that Aristotle was referring to are the plot, character, and thought.

The plot is the most important aspect of the tragedy. Aristotle tells us that a plot is a representation of an action and must be presented as a unified whole. The plot of Oedipus Rex has a beginning, middle and an end. One thing always follows something else as a “necessary or as a usual consequence, and is itself not followed by anything.” (Aristotle) According to E.M. Forester, “The plot is a narrative of events, the emphasis falling on causality.” The plot that contains an element of mystery is “capable of high development.” (Forester) In the play Medea, the reader can see the possible outcome of the tragedy in the very beginning. There is not much...
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