Tragedy and its Tragic Heroes
Tragedy: A story that tells of the ruin of a great man. In tragedies the main character can sometimes be characterized as a tragic hero. A tragic hero is “a literary character, who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw,”(Merriam Webster) which is actually their downfall. In Oedipus The King, the main character, the king of Thebes, is seen as the tragic hero on this particular tragedy. Now, fast-forwarding through time to 1949 Arthur Miller wrote Death of A Salesman. This play has a character named Willy Lowman and he certainly follows the definition of a tragedy, but he doesn’t have sudden realization like Oedipus in Oedipus the King. So, Oedipus is a tragic hero, while Willy Loman simply isn’t even though the story can be considered a tragedy.
First, Oedipus is the king of Thebes and in the beginning he finds out that the only way to save his city is to “drive out a pollution” (Kenney, 1002) that is holding the city back and causing sickness and death. This pollution is caused by the person who killed the previous king Laius. He finds this out and has Teiresias, a blind prophet, come and tell him who is the perpetrator is that killed the previous King. Teiresias says that he, Oedipus, killed the king and this enrages him. Later on, we find that there was a curse on Oedipus Arauzo 2
that he was to kill his father and lay with his mother. After, long investigation and digging through his history, Oedipus has a sudden realization that after all this time it was he who killed his father and he has slept with his own mother. This drives Jocasta, Oedipus’s wife and mother, to hang herself and Oedipus to gouge out his eyes for he believes his sight is no longer any use to him. He says to the chorus “Why should I see, whose vision showed me nothing sweet to see” (Kennedy, 1034).
How does all of this make him a tragic hero in this awful tragedy? Well his own arrogance and stubbornness blinded him from the...
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