“Aristotle’s Definition of the Tragic Hero and Irony in Tragedy” Oedipus Rex, Othello, and Death of a Salesman

3217 Words Jan 16th, 2010 13 Pages
Classification and definition of tragedy are among many things widely disputed in the all too equivocal realm of composition and literary studies. These erroneous concepts happen to be directly correlated in Aristotelian theory which leads us to his definition of the tragic hero. Aristotle’s conceptualization of tragedy and all that it encompasses is widely revered and accepted; setting the standard previously and contemporaneously. The interpretation of his definition of tragedy is ambiguous, but generally states that tragedy should evoke pity and fear within the viewer for the purpose of catharsis, or purgation of senses sequencing the climax of a tragedy. (Battin) This elicits his definition of the tragic hero, which states that a …show more content…
(Brown) We must also consider that during that time period murder was sanctioned to a radically different degree than today. Accordingly, his hamartia could very well be mistaken identity and failed recognition which stimulates the viewer’s sense of pity and causes him to be viewed more as a “victim of ironic fate”. (Brown) Line 1118 marks the point of the play where Oedipus comes to realization that his prophesy has indeed come true. It is at this point that he experiences an anagnorisis-discovering his hamartia. He acquired the throne due to his ability to solve a riddle that proved to be impenetrable to any who had attempted to decipher it, due exceptional logical-reasoning capacity (ironic). Perhaps it was this same power of reason that provoked him to believe that he could escape fate, inversely leading to his destruction. Oedipus states “Ah God!/ It was true!/ All the prophesies!/ -Now,/ O Light, may I look on you for the last time!/ I, Oedipus,/Oedipus, damned in his birth, in his marriage damned,/ Damned in the blood he shed with his own hand!”. (4.1118-1123) It was the acquisition of this throne that fulfilled the remainder of prophesy. He realizes that he is the provocation of the plague which ravages his (former) kingdom. Thereafter he concedes his anagnorisis: “Apollo-/ He brought my sick, sick fate upon me./ But the blinding hand was my own!” (3.1286-288) He is conclusively a product of his own demise. As
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