Oedipus the King: Larger than Life

Essay by gigglygirlHigh School, 11th gradeA+, December 2004

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Aristotle said in his famous Poetics:

"A tragedy, then, is the imitation of an action that is serious...in a dramatic, not in a narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, with which to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions..."

Oedipus The King, relates fully to this extract.

Considered to be among the most paradigmatic tragedies ever written, Oedipus the King, meets the five main criteria for a tragedy: a tragic hero of noble birth, tragic flaw, a fall from grace, a moment of remorse, and catharsis. Oedipus is the estranged son of Laius, King of Thebes and Jocasta, his wife. Oedipus is destined from birth, to murder his father and marry his mother. Even though not raised by his real parents, his is still of noble birth, he is taken in as a baby, by Polybus, King of Corinth.

Even though the tragic flaw does not actually take place in the time frame of the play, it generates the main crises: the murder of his father and the marriage to his mother.

We tensely observe through out the play as Oedipus and the rest of the characters discover the mistake that was actually made a long time ago, and can no longer be reversed, no one can escape their own fate, and the consequences are the most dreadful possible, patricide and incest,

"The killer you are seeking is yourself. [...]

I know as you do not that you are living

In sinful union with the one you love,

Living the ignorance of your own undoing."

Because of the dramatic effect of such extreme and violent situations, "we feel dread, we feel pity for Oedipus, but we know throughout the play that his ruin is inevitable" .

Oedipus' fall from grace is actually a consequence of his hubris, this...