Oedipus Rex as a Tragedy: How this play fit into the "tragic" criteria.

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Oedipus Rex as a Tragedy

Oedipus Rex, written by Greek playwright Sophocles, is considered to be one of the most

ingenious yet disturbing plays ever to be written. This drama has greatly influenced Western

culture, as elements of this play can be seen throughout later literature, legend and language,

becoming the standard for all other tragedies to be compared. The tragic figure, in this case

Oedipus, is responsible for his own downfall. This leads to harmatia, or an error in judgement,

usually a direct result of the initial hubris, and sets in motion the incidents or consequences

which lead to the destruction of the individual. The tragic figure must suffer and in turn, be aware

of the reasons for his suffering, but it is more often than not disproportionate to the actual crime.

Also, there must be a moment of tragic illumination or recognition, in which the tragic figure

acknowledges that he is responsible for his eventual downfall.

In short, these characteristics are

main elements in the definition of a tragedy. The tragic hero's self destructive actions convey an

aspect of the human condition. They also raise the question to what extent is the individual

responsible for his own demise, or is he mainly a plaything of the fates. Oedipus Rex embodies

these characteristics to such a degree, that it has become the paradigm of tragedy.

The tragic figure must not only be regarded with respect and admiration, but also evoke

pity with his downfall. This figure is not ordinary but extraordinary; However, we as an audience

do not necessarily identify with the tragic figure, rather we associate some of our character traits

Scodellaro 2

with his and thereby are given a tragic glimpse of the human condition. These are some of the

qualities which make Oedipus such an...