You are on page 1of 5

Steiner1

Samuel Steiner
Professor Patricia Pallis
English H102
July 8th 2016
Oedipus
Aristotle defines the tragic hero in many ways in his look into the epic Greek tragedies.
"The great philosopher in whose eyes the Oedipus Rex appears to have been well-nigh a perfect
tragedy” (Barstow 2). To be more accurate we will use Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero in
analyzing Oedipus. While looking at Oedipus, his actions must also be taken into account. How
does Oedipus react to the situation around him? Comparing Oedipus to other tragic heroes is a
good way to show how he is the perfect template to build one from.
The tragic hero has been around since the beginning of storytelling. “Oedipus Rex fulfils
the function of a tragedy and arouses fear and pity in the highest degree “(Barstow 2). Aristotle
defined a hero as a man who sees the root of his own downfall. He also goes into great detail
about what a tragic hero must go through. "Oedipus the King" showcases all the characteristics
as Oedipus, himself, progresses through his development.
Oedipus shows his hamartia, or error of judgment when he first hears he is not the son of
Polybus. He shows no ability to think in a rational way. He demands to know answers going so
far to demand answers from the Oracle of Delphi. Had he not done this he would have been
ignorant of his own fate, living a far better life. Oedipus’s hubris is his arrogance and lack of
interpretation of decisions. This leads to the death of his real father concluding the first part of

This is a noticeable fact when looking at Oedipus as a tragic hero. This is out of Oedipus’s control he is unable to do anything about the Oracle. reveal of the reversal. This is true with Oedipus Rex and the actions of those around him also influence his role as a tragic hero. This is also the primary reason the audience can connect with him. everyone’s fate is spun at birth and cut when they die. Oedipus believes that the Oracle is there to usurp the throne. His reversal of fortune or peripeteia and his anagnorisis. Of course in Greek mythology. He is relieved that his father had died not by his hand but soon finds out that Polybus had not been his biological father and he. Had this not been the case Oedipus’s ignorance may have gotten the better of him but at last. Aristotle also writes “Tragedy is an imitation not of human beings but of action and life” (Jones 14). happen when he hears of Polybus’s death. Oedipus while being a noble is easy to relate to and anyone reading “Oedipus the King” will feel some type of fear for Oedipus. This allows Homer to make a character which his audience can connect to. This is the final action the story of the tragic hero needs to fulfill. Homer is successful in making Oedipus the perfect tragic hero. As Aristotle defines it again the tragic hero must have no control of his/her own fate. this is out of his control his tragedy put into place. When Oedipus swears to exorcise the plague of Thebes he is unaware that he is the problem. in fact.Steiner2 the Oracle’s prophecy. did kill his father. This is a powerful tool that Homer uses to his advantage. This changes when the blind oracle Tiresias says he is the reason for King Laius’s death. All this accumulates to be a bigger fate than Oedipus deserves. In this . Throughout the story actions and events out of Oedipus’s control influence and decide his fate.

“He forgets everything else in his anger” (Barstow 3). In reality he is acting impetus and selfish. He feels as though he has beaten his fate. When looking at “Hamlet” or “Romeo and Juliet” two famous plays with tragic heroes the same type of character emerges. “Oedipus appears.Steiner3 Oedipus servers as an example and template for many future tragic heroes. and prompt to act” (Barstow 3). high-minded. The fact that the audience is able to have such a connection is a show of just how successful Homer is when creating a tragic hero. generous. This is the power Homer gives Oedipus when making him a tragic hero. he believes he is doing the right thing. He wants to remove the “plague” to prove he can protect this kingdom. Comparing Oedipus to other tragic heroes shows he is the perfec example of one. Oedipus’s actions that seem to come from a blind arrogance. Romeo being in love with a woman from a rival family provokes . Everyone knows this feeling. All this is Oedipus losing to his doomed fate. This is important to the fact that there is a message to take away from Oedipus. The audience feels that they would do the same or similar action if they were in his situation. The audience connects with Oedipus on an emotional level where many other heroes fail. Oedipus becomes an immortal symbol of the tragic hero because of this. “Hamlet” has Prince Hamlet and “Romeo and Juliet” has Romeo. These characters are all doomed from the beginning. out of control of his own fate. He acts to highly when he hears of Polybus’s death. His actions are a big reason an audience can connect with him. While Oedipus is unable to change his fate it is not for a lack of trying. From that the audience can express their fear for what Oedipus if going through. The audience knows they would be rash irrational and afraid if they were in his shoes.

“Oedipus the King” ultimately succeeds in creating the perfect tragic hero.Steiner4 chaos. Oedipus is the tragic hero. . Homer used all the definitions of the tragic hero. Oedipus will always live to be one of the staple icons of the tragic hero. making him an immortal character that lives through his story. Oedipus is connected with and instills fear in his audience. And Prince Hamlet is unable to let go of his father’s death and loses control of his emotions making him a reckless and unpredictable hero.

Web.Steiner5 Works Cited Barstow. 1986. "On Aristotle and Greek Tragedy. 7 July 2016. "Oedipus Rex as the Ideal Tragic Hero of Aristotle.d. Halliwell." N. .p. and Aristotle. Jones. Web. John. n. Print. Stephen.1 (1912): 2-4.. Aristotle's Poetics. Marjorie." The Classical Weekly 6. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina.

Related Interests