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7 Cards in this Set

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Aristotle in "Poetics"
His famous connection between "pity and fear" and "catharsis" developed into one of Western philosophy's greatest questions: why is it that people are drawn to watching tragic heroes suffer horrible fates?

Though Sophocles crafted Oedipus long before Aristotle developed his ideas, Oedipus fits Aristotle's definition with startling accuracy.
Aristotle's ideas revolve around three crucial effects
First, the audience develops an emotional attachment to the tragic hero

second, the audience fears what may befall the hero

and finally (after misfortune strikes) the audience pities the suffering hero
Through these attachments the individual members of the audience go through a catharsis, a term which Aristotle borrowed from the medical writers of his day, which means a "purging."
characteristics of the tragic hero...
complex and well-constructed character
Oedipus as the ideal tragic hero (nobility)
As a tragic hero, Oedipus elicits the three needed responses from the audience far better than most

Oedipus' nobility and virtue provide his first key to success as a tragic hero (the audience must respect the tragic hero as a "larger and better" version of themselves)

Oedipus is actually the son of Laius and Jocasta, the King and Queen of Thebes AND Oedipus himself believes he is the son of Polybus and Merope, the King and Queen of Corinth. Again, Oedipus attains a second kind of nobility, albeit a false one

earns royal respect at Thebes when he solves the riddle of the Sphinx (Creon gives Oedipus dominion over the city)

Oedipus' nobility derives from many and diverse sources
Oedipus as the ideal tragic hero ("harmartia" or "tragic flaw")
In Aristotle's understanding, all tragic heroes have a "harmartia," but this is not inherent in their characters, for then the audience would lose respect for them and be unable to pity them

the Greek term "harmartia," typically translated as "tragic flaw," actually is closer in meaning to a "mistake" or an "error," "failing," rather than an innate flaw

Instead, the character's flaw must result from something that is also a central part of their virtue, which goes somewhat arwry, usually due to a lack of knowledge--a kind of human failing and weakness

Oedipus fits this precisely, for his basic flaw is his lack of knowledge about his own identity. Moreover, no amount of foresight or preemptive action could remedy Oedipus' harmartia; unlike other tragic heroes, Oedipus bears no responsibility for his flaw

The audience fears for Oedipus because nothing he does can change the tragedy's outcome.
Oedipus as the ideal tragic hero (getting pity from the audience)
First, by blinding himself, as opposed to committing suicide, Oedipus achieves a kind of surrogate death that intensifies his suffering.

He comments on the darkness - not just the literal inability to see, but also religious and intellectual darkness - that he faces after becoming blind.

In effect, Oedipus is dead, for he receives none of the benefits of the living; at the same time, he is not dead by definition, and so his suffering cannot end.

Second, Oedipus himself and the Chorus both note that Oedipus will continue after the tragedy's conclusion. Unlike, for example Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and Orestes (the heroes in the Orestia trilogy), Oedipus' suffering does not end with the play.

Clearly, Oedipus' unique downfall demands greater pity from the audience.