Tragic Flaw: Aristotle vs. Oedipus

Topics: Tragedy, Oedipus, Poetics Pages: 3 (741 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Oedipus is a play written by Sophocles that many have heard. Few, however, would not be surprised to discover what Oedipus has discovered at the end of the play, that our tragic hero has killed his own father only to marry his mother. Many ask how this play could be a tragedy? What is the definition of tragedy?

Aristotle's 'The Poetics', is a work in which he tried to define what tragedy was. Aristotle decided that the hero, or at least the main character in a tragedy must be centrally good, but must bring about himself his demise, due to a fatal flaw, known as 'hamartia'. The character must show traits of nobleness . Were the character not noble, the audience would not care about the person, and would not notice his fall. In all classical literature this rule hold true but in modern literature playwrights have proven that and audience can care less about productive heroes. All heroes of tragedies were noble and tried to do good but failed themselves.

Oedipus was a good man. He solved the problem with the Sphinx, which is how he became king of Thebes in the first place. Oedipus was a religious and god-fearing man, believing in oracles and acting on them. Oedipus understood his people very well, to the extent that when he was that he ought to consul the oracle to figure out Apollo's wishes by the people. He is very ironic because he does not understand himself or realize anything that should seem plain and simple to him. Oedipus is very decisive, he sorts things out quickly and effectively, without much trouble.

As well as understanding his people he cared deeply for then. He once said:

'I grieve for these, my people, far more than I fear for my own life'-line 105

The irony of these words are very evident because Oedipus is determined to find the killer of the late King Laius, even if the tables turn on him.

Oedipus always want his people to be justified and in these terms he has a great sense of justice. When he discovers Laius...
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