A Survey of Tragedy

984 WordsJun 20, 20184 Pages
A Survey of Tragedy A modern tragedy of today and a tragedy of ancient Greece are two very different concepts, but ironically, both are linked by many similarities. In “Poetics”, Aristotle defines and outlines tragedy for theatre in a way that displays his genius, but raises questions and creates controversy. Aristotle’s famous definition of tragedy states: “A tragedy is the imitation of an action that is serious, and also as having magnitude, complete in itself in language with pleasurable accessories, each kind brought in separately in the parts of the work; in a dramatic, not in a narrative form: with incidents arousing pity and fear; wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions.” I believe Aristotle’s meaning of “Imitate”…show more content…
In “Oedipus the King”, Sophocles’ characterization of the protagonist is in near perfect compliance with the traits Aristotle outlined in “Poetics”. In the first scene, the foundation is laid showing King Oedipus as a good and kind King. He speaks with the city elder, showing his compassion and promising to relieve the city of Thebes of a plague. As the story line plays out, Oedipus’s character flaws of anger and compulsiveness begin to appear. These defects force the king into situations he would have been better to avoid, including his own fate death or banishment. When an Oracle reveals the prophecy that Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother, Oedipus leaves his comfortable life with King Polybus of Corinth and his wife Merope, who he believes are his biological parents. On his way to the city of Thebes, Oedipus kills a stranger on the road who turns out to be Laius, King of Thebes and unbeknownst to him, his biological father. When Oedipus arrives in Thebes he saves the city from the curse of the Sphinx, as a result is made King and marries the dead King’s Queen, Jocasta, his mother, thus fulfilling the prophecy. Oedipus is a victim of his own destiny and despite doing everything right; there’s nothing he could have done that would have changed his life. Studying “Oedipus the King” and “Death of a Salesman”, plays
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