Oedipus a Tragic Hero

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Oedipus A Tragic Hero
English 102 Literature and Composition
Summer B 2011
Terry Garofolo 22816762

Sophocles presented the world with Oedipus around 2500 years ago. Never-the-less, the story remains among the most riveting of all time. Unfortunately, today when we hear the mention of the name Oedipus we place negative connotations around it. Oedipus, after all, had an unnatural sexual relationship with his own mother! In actuality, however, this relationship emerged entirely innocently. Oedipus was not some misguided sexual pervert of an earlier time. He was, in fact, a man that was driven by a very high internal moral standard. It was that internal moral standard that ultimately entwined him in a sequence of events and circumstances that placed him in the spousal relationship with his mother. Oedipus, in fact, can truly be regarded as a tragic hero as Aristotle himself defined the term. Sophocles' “Oedipus” has been heralded as one of the “greatest achievements of Greek dramatic art” (Van Zyl Smit 477). Much of the credit is due Oedipus being presented as the “tragic hero”. He was a man who through no fault of his own was cast into a current of fate that would forever change not just his life but the life of all that were associated with him. Indeed, his story continues to deeply impact our emotions even today. Aristotle posited that a tragic hero was “such a person who neither is superior in virtue and justice, nor undergoes a change to misfortune because of vice and wickedness, but because of some error, and who is one of those people with a great reputation and good fortune” (DuBois 63). Under this criteria, a tragic hero would have an inherent goodness and act in ways that were appropriate for the situation and circumstances. Oedipus met each of those criteria. No, he wasn't superior to all of us but it must be admitted that he was superior to many of us. Never-the-less, he is just a human. He is easily angered and prone to fits...
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