English Literature

Topics: Oedipus the King, Character, Oedipus Pages: 3 (569 words) Published: June 23, 2013
In his Poetics, Aristotle set forth the characteristics of good tragedy.

To him the two most important features of tragedy were plot and

character. The plot should contain a change in fortune, preferably

from good to bad, and should ideally hinge on a recognition or

discovery. T

The main character, the protagonist, should be a person in whom

good and bad are mixed but in whom the good predominates. That

definition is usually paraphrased as "a basically noble person with a

tragic flaw," and that flaw, which Aristotle called "harmartia," I think

you can see how Oedipus as a person fits that description. In many

ways he's the ideal man--a caring, proactive, intelligent leader who

gets to work on his country's problem even before he's asked.

However, he also has a quick temper and can't stand to be denied

what he wants. We see that side of him in his conversation with

Teiresias and again in the last scene, when he threatens to torture

the old servant, who is refusing to talk only to protect Oedipus and

his family.

Other characterxs in the play are also well drawn. Creon is basically

level-headed and low-profile, but Oedipus' irrational accusations

drive him to losing his temper. It's one of many ironies in the play

that, at the end, he has reluctantly shouldered the responsibility

that Oedipus has erroneously accused him of wanting. Jocasta, who

sees where the investigation is leading before Oedipus does, shows

us from whom he has inherited his intelligence, just as his account

of his encounter with the man we know was Laius shows from

whom he inherited his temper. Jocasts's first appearance, in which

she prevents a fight between Oedipus and Creon by saying what

amounts to "Oedipus, come inside. Creon, go home" also

foreshadows in a blackly funny way the discovery that will soon be

made about her and Oedipus' true relationship. Teiresias' entrance...
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