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Oedipus Tyrannus : The Perfect Aristotelian Tragedy

Decent Essays
Aristotle’s Poetics argues that a successful tragedy is determined by its “plot, character, diction, reasoning, spectacle and lyric poetry”(50a8). According to Aristotle, plot is essential to a great tragedy: the most effective tragic device is conveyed through the work’s plot. Yet, having a protagonist of “not outstanding moral excellence or justice” undergoing bad fortune due to own error instead of “moral defect or depravity” would distinguish a good tragedy from a poor one. Additionally, Aristotle argues that a successful tragedy also yields pleasure to the audience. In SophoclesOedipus Tyrannus, Oedipus’s character traits, the play’s coincidences, and Oedipus’ hamartia contribute to the effective arousal of pity and fear, and Oedipus’ recognition of past sins contribute to the pleasure part. Combining the pitiful reactions and pleasurable demonstration of humanity, Oedipus Tyrannus presents itself as the perfect Aristotelian tragedy. Aristotle views an outstanding tragedy protagonist as someone who is neither “outstanding in moral excellence” nor morally deprived, and commits an error to find themselves in a tragic position (53a7-12). Oedipus is a perfect example of one such character. As the play begins, the city of Thebes is in desolation. In order to solve the problem, Oedipus sends Creon to investigate. Apollo tells Creon that the city is cursed, and to purge the curse, former king Laius’ killer must be punished (95-109). Oedipus puts great rewards into
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