Aristotle and the Irony of Guilt

Topics: Tragedy, Sophocles, Tragic hero Pages: 4 (1480 words) Published: April 4, 2007
Aristotle : The Irony of Guilt
The foundation upon which Aristotle rests his fundamental element of anagnorisis, in the Greek Tragedy, seems to always come back to human guilt, and the chosen actions by the hero forms the consequences of that guilt, which thereby determines the resolution. This sets an empathetic hook between audience and hero. It is the emotion that sets forth every action that will determine the hero's endgame. Aristotle, in his formula for Greek Tragedy, sets up the central hero as an almost mythic figure, where a fall from their steadfast and exemplary morality is that much longer of a descent. In the characteristics given to the central hero's of your classic tragedy, Aristotle is bringing to the forefront how a fall from grace will be all the more of a price that this hero will have to pay. Usually this in direct proportion to the initial heights of greatness that the hero figure personifies. It is with these outstandingly mythic traits that it is inevitable that the moral hero will feel profound guilt, seeing what has been done, either directly or indirectly through his actions. The situation lays out like paths of fate, seemingly steered from the heavens by The Gods, guiding them towards an inescapable conclusion. We feel for our hero in this way. Even the less benevolent among us has want and need to rectify the wrongs we perceive to be around us. Even on the sliding scale of morality, everyone carries a sense of what is to do right, and what is to do wrong, although some of the actions taken to meet these ends can be interpreted in different ways by the observer. There is no end scale to mark what the right and wrong is in a given situation. Usually the end judgment is left to the observing majority. The audience. It is by this rule that most laws are created and constitutions based. The audience is well aware that a sometimes hard decision, though not always readily apparent to the hero, will have to be faced. A...

Cited: Neblett, William "The Ethics of Guilt" The Journal of Philosophy, Vol 71. No. 18 (Oct 24, 1974), pp. 652-667
Vellacott, P. H. "The Guilt of Oedipus" Greece & Rome. 2nd Ser., Voll. 11, No. 2 (Oct., 1964), pp. 137-148
Stockholder, Katherine S. "Egregiously an Ass : Chance and Accident in Othello" Studies in English Literature. 1500-1900, Vol. 13, No. 2, Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama. (Spring, 1973), pp. 256-272
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