Oedipus: Aristotle's Definition Of A Tragic Hero

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Aristotle is famous for his definition of a tragic play. A specific trait of a tragedy that was specifically important is having a qualified tragic hero. Oedipus is often point to as the premier example of Aristotle’s definition of this type of character. While exemplifying the high estate, noble character, and flawed nature of Aristotle’s tragic hero, Oedipus fails to have a personal mistake become his undoing, hence denying him the status of Aristotle’s tragic hero.
A key criteria of Aristotle’s tragic hero is that he or she comes from a high estate, such as a royal family. Aristotle’s definition of the tragic hero is well thought out in this manner. High status is important as it gives the character a long way to fall (Kennedy & Gioia, 2013).
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From the play it is clear at the beginning that Oedipus is King of Thebes (Sophocles, ca. 425 BC/2013), so he meets the first criteria. Not only this, but he was raised as the son of the king and queen of Corinth, before it is discovered that he is actually the son of the former king and queen of Thebes (Sophocles, ca. 425 BC/2013). He was well respected and considered a hero, which makes his downfall significantly more dramatic, just as Aristotle explained it would (Barstow, 1912). Throughout the text it is clear that Oedipus is of the highest estate possible for mortal man within Greek …show more content…
This is where Oedipus fails Aristotle’s criteria as “Sophocles ' King Oedipus is not a drama of character where the tragic hero falls from grace to grass because of a tragic flaw” (Adade-Yeboah, et al., 2012, p13). His fall might be considered to be from his own decisions, but none of them appear to be mistakes. The fact that he begins the investigation to save the citizens of Thebes from a terrible plague, requires Oedipus find the murderer. Obviously this is not a mistake as he is choosing to be a responsible King and protect his people. He insists on discovering the truth, despite the numerous people who try to stop him. Seeking truth is also required to save Thebes. Killing the King was a mistake Oedipus made, but it was in self-defense, which is why he did not think of himself as a murderer. Marrying his wife might be considered a mistake, but she was presented to him as a wife when he was made king of Thebes and he had no knowledge of how they were related. Trying to escape his fate might be considered Oedipus’ mistake, as it resulted in these two events. Nevertheless, in Greek tragedy if the prophecy was true, he would never be able to avoid his fate, regardless of what he did. In the Greek context “The gods, however deviously they may indicate, do not lie” (Alderman, 1981, p. 178), hence Oedipus’ fate was fulfilled. In the end, the only variable Oedipus could have

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