Jocasta as a Tragic Hero Essay

1222 Words Apr 18th, 2013 5 Pages
Kayla Holt
Professor Slattery
English L202
October 10, 2012
Upholding Jocasta as the Tragic Hero
What makes a tragic hero? Aristotle lays down groundwork of a tragic hero as being essentially good. They are neither villain nor saint because they have flaws. Several elememts are nevcesary to have a tragic hero, they are the tragic flaw, the reversal, recognition, and hubris. These generally make up the story of the tragic hero, and in the case of Jocasta, the wife and mother of Oedipus in Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, she posses all three. Yet she is not truly considered a “tragic hero,” but a tragic character by many. However seeing as it is the character of Jocasta that sets the story in motion, and she posses the qualities in a
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Because she thinks that she and Laius were able to avoid the prophecy, she gives little credence to what the oracle says (Sophocles 1.1. 784-796). She respects the gods, but not the oracles. She tries to lead Oedipus to adopt this standpoint as well, telling him of the prophecy told to Laius and herself, and how that prophecy did not come to pass. After telling Oedipus that he need not worry about the words of a prophet she tells him, “Whatever the god needs and seeks he’ll bring to light himself, with ease.” (Sophocles line 799-800). Later she goes to Apollo’s temple and asks for his guidance, saying that they are in the grip of fear, beseeching his help for Oedipus and saying, “ I come with prayers and offerings…I beg you, cleanse us, set us free of defilement!” (Sophocles line 1009-1010). She does not yet realize that the defilement cannot be cleansed.
Her only flaw is disregard for the prophets; she never disregards the gods themselves. Her disbelief in them is sound, and she maintains her belief in the gods. In this way it is hubris, her overwhelming pride or belief that she thwarted the earlier prophecy. It is still this flaw which is a part of her tragic downfall.
The Reversal
Peripetia, or the reversal, is another element of the tragic hero. Such as when an action backfires on the person, much the way that abandoning Oedipus

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