SophoclesOedipus Rex is a clear, classic example of tragedy. Looking back on the standards Aristotle set for tragedy, we can see how this play fits the mold perfectly.

    First, the tragedy must have a hero who makes a mistake. Our hero is Oedipus. He has become king of Thebes by answering the riddle of the sphinx, and now he is anxious to avenge Laius, the previous king, in order to end the plague of misfortune on the land. Oedipus' mistake was made long before he was king. Since it was prophesied he would kill his father and marry his mother, he specifically stayed away from the couple who had raised him. On his journey he ends up killing the king of Thebes, and goes on to marry his wife. Little does he know that he was adopted, and the man he killed, along with the bride he now has are his true parents. This is truly a tragic mistake because Oedipus went to great lengths to avoid the prophecy, but in the process came to fulfill it.
    Another important requirement Oedipus Rex fits as a tragedy 
is the tragic outcome of the tale. When the truth of his deeds is revealed, 
Jocasta, Oedipus' wife/mother, kills herself in shame and grief. Oedipus takes 
the pins from her robes and gouges out his eyes in violent fashion. Also, 
another tragic act is the murder of Laius by his own son who is unaware of his 
identity. 
    Oedipus grows from this tragic experience, by 
changing from a somewhat arrogant king to a lowly blind man who is disgraced. 
The price of learning the truth of his identity is the fact that he has to live 
with the horrors of that truth.
In my opinion, these requirements Aristotle puts into place which Oedipus Rex follows are a meaningful and useful view on tragedy. It is interesting to see that stories like this are not meant just to be sad or depressing, but they contain a lesson learned by the character that is applicable to the lives of you and me. The pattern followed in this story helps me see the sadness and loss within the play. Oedipus really doesn't know of what he's done. He has spent so much time and effort to avoid the prophecy, but it was all a waste. The harshness of this drives the point Sophocles is trying to make home for me: that pride comes before the fall.

 


Andy Schoenborn
11/25/2012 6:49am

Hi Ian,

The post works well by sharing quite a bit of perspective in the end.

Reply



Leave a Reply.