King Oedipus The King Essay

Decent Essays
Sophocles’ play, King Oedipus is a perfect example of a clear Aristotelian tragedy. In fact, it was so perfect that Aristotle himself considered it the ideal tragedy. An Aristotelian tragedy is “serious action in a dramatic text that portrays incidents arousing pity and fear, causing catharsis in the audience.” Aspects of a tragedy include a tragic hero, who is neither good nor bad, who has a hamartia which causes him to ignore a divine warning or violate a moral law. A common example of hamartia is hubris, or pride. A tragedy is also often accompanied by a peripeteia, which is when the tragic hero has a sudden change of fortune. The tragic hero moves us to pity and also to fear, by showing us how what happened to him could happen to us as…show more content…
He firstly uses a metaphor and the beginning of a light and dark motif when Oedipus says, “Living in perpetual night, you cannot harm me, or anyone who sees the light”, which shows Oedipus’ hubris by disregarding Tiresias’ divinations, which are divine warnings, and also sets up Oedipus as a tragic hero, which he extends on later in the play. Moreover, he uses rhetorical questions when Oedipus says, “Have you the face to stand before my door, proved plotter against my life, thief of the crown?” to show Oedipus’ hubris in assuming that Creon is somehow involved in some kind of plot against his throne just because he suggested that they send for Tiresias to give them information to alleviate the famine in Thebes, and showing his hubris in assuming all this without any evidence whatsoever, again cementing his role as a tragic hero. Finally, Sophocles uses euphemism and irony in the Theban Legend, where he says “And, beside one sharp encounter on the journey to Thebes from Corinth”, which uses an euphemism in omitting to say that Oedipus killed his father, but he uses dramatic irony by showing that Oedipus did not know that he was his father. This further solidifies Oedipus’ role as a tragic hero, and it also serves to give his second fatal flaw: him killing his father, and marrying his wife. Thus Sophocles uses the beginning of King Oedipus…show more content…
However, he also shows that other characters also have some of these tragic qualities and that they contribute to Oedipus’ downfall. Firstly, Sophocles uses irony when Oedipus says, “It is I whom no stranger, no citizen must take to his house; I to whom none may speak; on me is the curse that none but i have laid.” This is an example of irony because it shows that Oedipus sets all these curses for anyone who killed Laius, yet he will end up being ensnared by these curses, which he himself laid. This line references when Oedipus explains about how he kills all of the people in Laius’ party save one, who became a shepherd, and it evokes our terror by showing how Oedipus is capable of such an extreme act of violence, and this shows Oedipus as a tragic hero. Similarly, Sophocles uses irony when Jocasta says, “Where are you now, divine prognostications?” which shows how Oedipus is not the only culprit in this tragedy, and that Jocasta ignores a divine warning, which helps to show the play as an Aristotelian play, and that these characters who are not quite tragic heroes do contribute to Oedipus’ downfall. Lastly, Sophocles uses high modality when Oedipus says, “I must unlock the secret of my birth.” He uses the high modality to show Oedipus’ final hamartia: that he sought the truth until it was too late, and this causes his peripeteia, which
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