Oedipus as a Tragedy by Aristotle’s Definition
A tragedy by definition is “a drama which recounts an important and casually related series of events in the life of a person of significance, such events culminating in an unhappy catastrophe, the whole treated with great dignity and seriousness”. The Greek tragedies are plays based on myths which were well known and enjoyed by audiences. Most of the plays encompassed certain elements that Aristotle identified in his Poetics. The five Aristotelian elements for a tragedy are: 1. The tragedy must make the audience feel fear and pity toward the actions that take place on stage, and the play should inspire the audience to live better lives; 2. The hero must be of high importance in his society (king, god, etc.), and possess a tragic flaw; 3.There must be a change of fortune involving a reversal; 4. The plays must be written in the formal language of poetry; 5. The plot must bring together the three unites of, Action, Time, and Place. Also, it is generally accepted that most tragedies end unhappily and contain a significant amount of dramatic irony.
Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles in the 400’s BC, is about a young Greek who was fated to murder his father, marry his mother, and while in the process become the king of Thebes. This play is no exception to Aristotles’ definition of a tragedy. The play includes all the key elements of a Greek tragedy, and also contains all the parts of a Greek play such as a Prologue, a Parados, an Episoda and Stasima, as well as an Exodus. In the prologue, Oedipus is introduced as the King of Thebes (which means he has a very high role in his society) and has just learned the reason that his kingdom has been cursed with a devastating plague. The gods have cursed Thebes because the murderer of the former King, Laius, was never punished. Oedipus vows to avenge the death of Laius by finding and killing the murderer. This is ironic because...
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