Oedipus: The Tragic Hero

Essay by dgarcia95College, UndergraduateA+, November 2014

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The Tragic Hero

Aristotle describes the tragic hero as "not eminently good and just, not completely under the guidance of true reason, but as falling through some great error or flaw of a character, rather than through vice or depravity…must be of an illustrious family, highly renowned, and prosperous" (Barstow 2) There are five steps Aristotle uses to describe the literary character of the tragic hero in plays: flaw or error of judgment, peripeteia, anagnorsis, too much pride, and the character's fate must be greater than deserved. All these tools have helped guide poets, such as Shakespeare in presenting an analytical understanding of tragic heroes and their victimizing misfortunes. Sophocles introduces his interpretation of the literary character by choosing to write about Oedipus the King and his murderous prophecy. An analysis of Sophocles "Oedipus the King" reveals the Aristotelian view of the tragic hero and its effects on Oedipus's actions and behaviors throughout the play.

In the poem, "Oedipus the King" the main character, Oedipus, shows continuous signs of his tragic heroism. From the beginning of the poem, Sophocles introduces the protagonist, Oedipus and demonstrates Aristotle's stage of hubris. His prideful characterization is shown in his beginning monologue, "Here I am - myself - you all know me, the world knows my fame: I am Oedipus" (Oedipus Rex). His egoism is a statement of irony. Sophocles describes Oedipus as an Apollonian. He is seen as a rational character motivated by reality and societal order, but his irrational wisdom does not allow him to become aware of his fate. Having an extreme sense of pride allows a person to continuously feel threatened when they feel like someone is trying to take away their honor and glory and use it for him or herself. Upon learning...