Oedipus Rex, a play written by Sophocles, and Fight Club, a movie directed by David Fincher, are two stories that relate to one another by sharing similar ideas and life lessons. One could argue that both contain essential qualities and characteristics of classical tragedy, but are they both ultimately tragic in the classical sense of the word? I believe that both Oedipus Rex and Fight Club do, in fact, exhibit the important qualities of classical tragedy but ultimately, I think that only one of the two stories is a true classical tragedy.
The term ‘classical tragedy’ may often be confused with the modern view of tragedy. Today, we may think of a tragedy as a disastrous event such as a car accident or a natural disaster, often leading to death. For the Greeks, tragedy was more of a state of mind or sense of personal loss that was taken seriously. In my research of the term classical tragedy, I found that the typical classical tragedy involves a tragic hero of noble birth who has a tragic flaw that leads to a fall from grace, a moment of remorse, and catharsis.
Oedipus Rex is probably the most famous tragedy ever written. In the play Oedipus, King of Thebes, after hearing that his city is being ravaged by fire and plague, sends his brother-in-law, Creon, to find a remedy from the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. When Creon returns, Oedipus begins investigating the death of his predecessor, Laius, and discovers through various means that he himself was the one who had unknowingly killed Laius and then married his own mother, Jocasta. Jocasta commits suicide, Oedipus blinds himself, takes leave of his children, and is led away. The story of Oedipus Rex clearly displays all the major characteristics of classical tragedy; he is the King of Thebes so he is looked upon as morally superior and upper class. Anger and pride are his tragic flaws. He tries to blame other people for the bad things that he has done instead of realizing that it is him who has done them. In the...
Cited: Fight club. Dir. David Fincher. With Brad Pitt, Edward Norton. 20th Century Fox, 1999.
Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. New York: Dover Publications, INC, 1991.
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