Elements of Tragedy

Essay by DervishJunior High, 9th grade January 2006

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Both Prometheus Bound and Oedipus Rex are Greek tragedies. They are very similar, being the same genre, but there are also a few key differences and similarities between the two. Since the characters of each are very different, yet the main ideas are the same, this is only to be expected.

Each play has a tragic hero as the main character- Prometheus and Oedipus. Prometheus attempted to help humans by giving them fire against Zeus' orders, and he is being punished. Oedipus tried to avoid a prophecy of Apollo that said he would kill his father and sleep with his mother, and despite his and others' best efforts, it still came to pass. A tragic hero is far different from a regular hero- a tragic hero has utterly failed in whatever they set out to do, despite good intentions, and a normal hero is just that- normal. They may get angsty now and then but they are generally successful.

Prometheus and Oedipus both had a tragic flaw as well. Prometheus was too proud and arrogant to accept help from his friends, and misinterpreted his future sight. Oedipus was also too arrogant to accept the prophecy told to him by Apollo's oracle, and put too much faith in his riddle-solving ability. Both of them tried to defy the gods- this is called 'hubris' and was extremely looked down upon.

Both Prometheus and Oedipus suffered a tragic fall- falling from their high status in punishment for their flaw. Prometheus was chained and nailed to a rock and forced to endure eternal torture, while Oedipus fulfilled the prophecy unknowingly, and when he found out he gouged out his own eyes (and his wife hung herself). The falls were very different- Prometheus is a god and cannot die, while Oedipus is mortal, and...