Essay on Oedipus the King: A Plot Driven Tragedy

1493 Words 6 Pages
According to Aristotle, the driving force behind tragic works lies not in the development of characters but in the formulation of a specific plot structure. Aristotle believed that the purpose of all art is to imitate life and that human beings live their lives through events and actions. He argues that characters serve to advance the events of the plotline and that the characters themselves are not central. Aristotle's opinions on tragedy were largely constructed around Sophocles' Oedipus the King, which Aristotle called "the perfect tragedy." Considered by many to be one of the greatest plays of all time, Oedipus the King tells how Oedipus, the king of Thebes, comes to realize that he unknowingly killed his father and married …show more content…
To keep this from happening, Oedipus left home forever. On the way to Thebes at a three-way crossroad he became engaged in dispute and ended up killing a man whom he now fears may have been Laius. There was said to be one survivor of the attack for whom Oedipus sends to question.
A messenger then approaches with news that Oedipus's fa ther, Polybus, has died of natural causes. Oedipus rejoices and concedes that perhaps prophecies are, in fact, unreliable. However, he still fears going to Corinth because of the half of the prophecy that states he will sleep with his mother. The messenger tells Oedipus that he does not need to fear this, as Polybus and his wife, Merope, are not Oedipus's true parents. The messenger recounts that long ago he was approached by a shepherd who gave him a baby boy with his ankles pinned together. He brought the baby to Polybus and Merope, who raised him as their own son. Oedipus demands that the other shepherd be brought fourth to testify, but Jocasta, suspecting the terrible truth, begs her husband to stop this search and to leave well enough alone. Oedipus refuses and Jocasta runs into the palace.
Oedipus questions the shepherd who, after being threatened with torture, admits that the child was Laius's son and that Jocasta gave him the infant to be killed in order to avo id a prophecy. Oedipus finally realizes who he is and who his parents are. He screams and
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