An Analysis of Oedipus and Aristotle's Definition of the Tragic Hero

2569 Words Feb 5th, 2018 10 Pages
A Tragedy, of course, was nothing more than a drama, in which the characters appeared "better" than in real life (in a comedy, they appeared "worse," according to Aristotle). Aristotle's Poetics makes several references to other dramatic works to illustrate his points, but he most commonly calls upon The Odyssey to support his argument for how a dramatic structure should be designed. However, along with the Odyssey, Aristotle extensively references Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. Both poetic works were enormously popular in their time (the former had been passed down orally for generations, and the latter won the top prizes at the dramatic festivals). Therefore, Aristotle is comfortable using both to support his viewpoint concerning Tragedy and the Tragic Hero. This paper will analyze the standards that Aristotle sets out concerning the definition of the Tragic Hero and show how Sophocles' Oedipus exemplifies Aristotle's definition of a Tragic Hero.
The Tragedy Before beginning, however, it is necessary to examine the aim of Tragedy. A Tragic work, according to Aristotle, was simply one that showed men as better than they typically are in everyday reality. Tragedy served to show mankind at his noblest, without, however, depicting man as unreal or unbelievable. To represent a noble man…