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Ignoble Downfall : Oedipus Rex And The Infernal Machine

Good Essays
Lena Khalidi
Megan Vasavada
AP Literature
16 October 2017
A Noble vs. Ignoble Downfall: Oedipus Rex and The Infernal Machine
Originating from the philosopher, Aristotle, the characterization of “pity and fear” developed into an idea present in classic Greek tragedies (Oedipus Packet). As the outcome of these emotions, the audience experiences catharsis in response to the inevitable downfall of the protagonist. It was not uncommon to see playwrights stray away from this classical approach in tragic literature as writing conventions became less restricted over time. Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex (430 B.C.) and Jean Cocteau’s The Infernal Machine (1934) highlight the conceptual differences of heroism, destiny, and a man’s consciousness to the influence of the period it was written in. Handling the same myth, Cocteau conveys how a legend’s adaptability is present thousands of years later and he questions the illusory heroic qualities of Oedipus in Sophocles’ original play. Whereas both authors argue that Oedipus was blinded by his own arrogance, in the original Oedipus Rex, Sophocles depicts Oedipus as a noble tragic hero who owns up to his sins while in The Infernal Machine, Cocteau mocks the concept of the tragic hero, depicting Oedipus as ignoble with a helpless demise. Though both texts follow the same plot, Cocteau modifies the motives of Oedipus to reinvent the traditional status and role of the tragic hero. Sophocles and Cocteau both seem to agree that the obstinate,
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