"Oedipus Rex", Aristotle's Tragic Hero

Essay by xloveinajarxCollege, UndergraduateA, December 2006

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Oedipus, by Aristotle's standards is a tragic hero. Oedipus fits the description of the necessities of a tragic hero, and the story follows the guidelines set for a tragedy. Oedpius is easily considered good, conveys an in-character and appropriate behavior, he is imperfect and life like, and his traits are consistent. Oedipus is a character of noble stature and has greatness, while still embodying virtue and nobility. This being said, Oepidus is not perfect. Aristotle says the best plotline for a tragedy would be one where the hero falls from good fortune to bad, which is just how Oedipus the King is. His downfall from good fortune to bad is not because of any villainy or wickedness on his part, but because of a mistake he made in the past. More importantly, the play is complex rather than simple and is clearly, "a representation of terrible and piteous events," both of which Aristotle is quick to mention in The Poetics.

All of Aristotle's guidelines of a tragic hero are met by Oedipus. Oedipus could easily be considered good by the majority of people. He wants to do good, he's sympathetic and wants to genuinely help his people. "You may be confident that I'll do anything." (Oedipus the King) This being said, Oedipus has negative traits as well. According to Aristotle, an entirely good character is repulsive. "...neither should virtuous men appear undergoing a change from good to bad fortune, for that is not fearful, nor pitiable either, but morally repugnant." (The Poetics) Though he wants to help his people, he still has his own agenda. Oedipus wants to find the killer not just for the sake of his people knowing who the killer of their former king was, but also to disprove the Oracle. "Go in and...