Critical Essays On Oedipus Rex

Critical Essays On Oedipus Rex-31
Second, Oedipus himself and the Chorus both note that Oedipus will continue after the tragedy's conclusion.

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

In Aristotle's understanding, all tragic heroes have a "hamartia," but this is not inherent in their characters, for then the audience would lose respect for them and be unable to pity them; likewise, if the hero's failing were entirely accidental and involuntary, the audience would not fear for the hero.

Clearly, for Aristotle's theory to work, the tragic hero must be a complex and well-constructed character, as in Sophocles' Oedipus the King.

As a tragic hero, Oedipus elicits the three needed responses from the audience far better than most; indeed, Aristotle and subsequent critics have labeled Oedipus the ideal tragic hero.

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.

Oedipus receives the worst of both worlds between life and death, and he elicits greater pity from the audience.Finally, Oedipus earns royal respect at Thebes when he solves the riddle of the Sphinx.As a gift for freeing the city, Creon gives Oedipus dominion over the city.The audience fears for Oedipus because nothing he does can change the tragedy's outcome.Finally, Oedipus' downfall elicits a great sense of pity from the audience.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.By defining the notion this way, Aristotle indicates that a truly tragic hero must have a failing that is neither idiosyncratic nor arbitrary, but is somehow more deeply imbedded -- a kind of human failing and human 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' hamartia; unlike other tragic heroes, Oedipus bears no responsibility for his flaw.Thus, Oedipus' nobility derives from many and diverse sources, and the audience develops a great respect and emotional attachment to him.The complex nature of Oedipus' "hamartia," is also important.

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