Theintroduction defines a tragic hero as well as the character hepossess. The tragic hero has been defined as somebody with specificcharacters such as hamartia, peripeteia and spoudaios. Furthermore,the character of Oedipus who happens to be the tragic hero in theplay is discussed following a thorough exploration of his role in theplay.
Inthe body of this essay, Oedipus comes out as a tragic hero and hisunique characters are explained in details. According to Teresias,Oedipus knew the cause of the problems faced by the people of Thebes.In addition, she also did predict the king’s blindness. Besides, welearn that Oedipus killed his parents due to ignorance. It is fromthis point that Oedipus rose to power in Thebes after he was electedby the people serve them. Oedipus inherited thrones in Thebes andCorinth due to the close relationship that existed between him andthe predecessors of the throne. The throne in Thebes belonged to hisbiological parents whereas that of Corinth was owned by his adoptiveparents.
Theconclusion defines the characteristics of tragic heroes. Inconclusion, it is a brief description of the entire story where themain events are outlined.
Accordingto Aristotle, a tragic hero should have qualities such as hamartia,peripeteia, and spoudaios. This essay mainly explores Oedipus who isthe tragic hero based on the three qualities. Some characteristicsdepicted by Oedipus include: nobility, tragic reversal of his fortuneand error in his judgments. Mostly, a tragic hero is defined assomebody who has a high social rank in the society. These people facedangerous situations in their societies as they try to protect thepeople. Some even die in the process of trying to save the lives oftheir beloved society members. The downfalls of these heroes usuallyrange from ruin or complete death. Besides, the heroes usually facetheir downfalls with dignity and courage and they are known to fightto the end (Oedipus etal.68).
Oedipuswho is the protagonist in the drama starts as a noble and treasuredking. He later discovered that he had married his own mother and hadunknowingly killed his own father. Additionally, Oedipus lost hisentire family members and subsequently his kingdom. Consequently, heblinded himself and went into exile. Further, he is a prince ofJocasta and Laios by birth which making him the rightful heir of thethrone located in Thebes. He is also the prince to Polybus and Meropeby adoption making him the heir of the throne in Corinth. He is laterelected as the king of Thebes. Aristotle using noble Oedipustherefore describes a tragic hero as someone prosperous and highlyrenowned. It is shown from the prologue of King Oedipus that he isnot a common ruler but a great king who is held in high status by hispeople. People adore him very much and they place him to a godlikestatus. He in return loves his people. He is a committed andpassionate about his responsibility of protecting the people who areunder his rule.
Besideshe is disturbed by the pain of his ruined city which makes him tosleep properly. His continued search for truth is admirable butfinally results to his downfall. Oedipus is committed to ensure heidentifies the killers of King Laios. Even after his implication, herefused to give up on finding the real murderers. Many people knewthat Oedipus suffered because he was a good person who always wantedequality among his people. The definition put forward by Aristotleshows that Oedipus is noble whose fate is self-caused and wasundeserved. Another characteristic of a tragic hero is shown when heis not taken far away from his people. From the play, a priest whowanted to talk to Oedipus told him that he was not well informedbecause they thought nothing of him. There is an argument whether histragic flaw or harmatia was intellectual or moral. This is because hehad already been shown as noble.
Atragedy portrays a hero as a person who is worthy respect in a moralsense, makes important intellectual decisions which finally leads tohis downfall. The action shifts him from happiness to misery. Somewould argue that Oedipus was full of pride and would be angered tooeasily. This leads to questioning of his moral character by some ofthe people whereas others argued that he was acting under normalmoral circumstances because of intellectual errors. Furthermore, hewas concerned about his kingdom. Even after unknowingly killing hisfather, he felt it was due to provocation and thinks it wasself-defense. This was an intellectual blunder and not a moral error(Kennedy etal.150).
Anotherfeature that plays into hamartia of Oedipus is fate. King Laios hadbeen warned early by an Oracle that any son who they would conceivedwill kill him and later sleep with his mother. This warning came tohappen because later Oedipus killed his father and unknowinglymarried his mother. From the story, the gods are able to exert theirextreme power over the just and unjust who suffer from random powerobtained mysteriously. A man who is proud is also rightly humbled.The gods stray Oedipus by telling him about his future deeds whichwould be grievous rather than informing him of his true heritage.This makes Oedipus cry at the end claiming that the gods do not lovehim. It is not clear how Oedipus could be held responsible in hisdivine decree. This is because any tragic flaw which is on his partseems to be small compared to the work done by the forces behind thescenes. We can draw a conclusion here that his mistake was in tryingto make his future bright (Barstowetal.200).
Fromhis heart, he does not want to commit the terrible actions which thegods insists that he would commit. Oedipus is morally innocentbecause he tried to avoid the crimes which he has committed. He hadcommitted intellectual errors that are justifiable because even thegood men who had perfect virtues would not have avoided them. He waseasily annoyed by his own deeds. This is due to the responses whichhe gave Teresias who was a blind prophet and Creon who was hisbrother-in-law. Oedipus would also judge people and gave conclusionsvery fast.
Thetheme of Oedipus’ intellectual blindness as well as those aroundhim dominates the play. The residents of Thebes called out their godsfor wisdom whereas Oedipus called out for the oracle. The only personwho was able to know the cause of all the plagues affecting thepeople of Thebes was Teresias. She pointed out the blindness of theKing and his true harmatia. Teresias goes on to prophecy Oedipus’sfuture blindness and his incapability to discern the horrible deedswhich he committed. This is true because he later killed his father.After he had murdered his father, he went on to marry his mother. Heaccused Creon who had helped him in solving the riddle of sphinx tobe untrustworthy and unreliable. He was unable to see the realitybehind all these situations. Despite Oedipus being unable torecognize his blindness for a long time, his eyes finally opened upenabling him to see the truth. This marked the start of his tragicdownfall.
Thefortunes reversal of Oedipus is interesting because he was once nobleand then suddenly started calling himself miserable. The loss of thekingdom of Thebes is the main cause of his downfall. Being unable tosee his parents after they died marked the beginning of his misery.His inability to inherit Corinth when his adopted father died furtherincreased his misery. Oedipus was unable to see his daughters Ismeneand Antigone during his life after he went to Thebes. Moreover, hewas unable to see the god’s images either in life or death. DespiteOedipus passing through these many challenges, he still remainedcompassionate and committed in serving his people. He portrayscharacteristics of a male protagonist who will always protect hispeople even when he is facing any type of tragedy. His people adoredhim and would always praise him for the good work he was doing forhis country. His integrity is exceptional because he tries to findout the killers of King Laios. The parents of Oedipus had been warnedearly by an oracle that any son they would give birth to will finallyturn against them in the future. He later killed his father and thendecided to marry his own mother due to ignorance. He chose blindnessas a penalty for the murder he did which was worse than death.Oedipus insists that the punishment which he took of blinding himselfwas good. This shows his spoudaios character. When he was leaving forexile he asked forgiveness from Creon. This is because Creon was hisbest friend and he had much trust in him. He just knew that he wouldnot do any harm to his two daughters. He left his children underCreon’s guardianship after he had taken time to embrace them. Creonplayed a big role in making Oedipus fall from his leadership as aking. This is due to the hatred that exists between them. Withoutremembering the bad relationship between them, he leaves hisdaughters with Creon when he left for exile. He is not heart brokenby suffering. The extinction which is irrational of exterior powerand good fortune earned shows a new supply of strength about histragic knowledge (Duarte etal.98).
Aristotletries to explain that a tragic hero is somebody who is highlysuccessful and famous among the people. He should also be successfulin any task of protecting his people. Oedipus would not get sleepbecause of the love which he had for his blighted city. He felt painwhenever he saw his people suffering. He started seeing himself asmiserable when people started doubting the prophecies of his godswhich he had trust in. He always believed what the gods prophesiedabout his future. Teresias was the only person who knew the cause ofthe problems the people of Thebes were facing.
Fromthe play, Oedipus demonstrates all the parameters that define atragic hero. The characteristics which define a tragic hero includeharmartia, spoudaios, and peripeteia. He is also able to showreversal of fortunes, error in judgment and nobility. All thesecharacteristics make Oedipus qualify to be a tragic hero. The peopleof Thebes where Oedipus was ruling heralded him as one of the bestleaders. This is because he was able to solve the problems which thepeople were facing. Even after he was implicated in the killing ofKing Laios, he did not stop in trying to find out the real murderers.Many people said that his fate was self-caused and undeserved.
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