Oedipus the King: A Tragic Hero Essay

2117 Words 9 Pages
In most dramatic plays, tragedy usually strikes the protagonist of the play and leads him, or her, to experience devastating losses. While tragic instances can be avoided, there are other instances where one’s fate and future is out of the protagonist’s control. In Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles and first performed around 249 BC, Oedipus cannot escape his destiny and even though he tries to overcome and circumvent prophecy, he finds out that supernatural forces will get what they want in the end. Oedipus meets the criteria of a tragic hero set forth by Aristotle and his fate within the play demonstrates that one does not always have free will in their lives. Traditionally, in Greek drama, tragedy is meant to reaffirm the …show more content…
(Aristotle)
Moreover, “tragedy evolved from the choral lyric poem in honor of Dionysus, sung and danced around an altar of Dionysus in circular dancing place” (“Greek Tragic Drama”). In Oedipus the King, Oedipus can be considered to be the tragic hero of the play. Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero holds that the tragic hero is “a person who is neither perfect in virtue or justice, nor one who will fall into misfortune through vice or depravity, but rather, on who succumbs through some miscalculation” (Brown). Aristotle also believed that the tragic hero’s misfortune or demise was not “wholly deserved” and that the punishment would exceed the crime that he or she committed (“Aristotle”). The tragic hero’s fall was also meant to serve as an allegory and intended to “raise awareness [or] gain self-knowledge” (“Aristotle”). In many cases, the tragic hero’s fall is due to a tragic flaw that serves as a catalyst for his or her demise. In other cases, supernatural forces help to cause the tragic hero to fall (“Tragedy: The Basics”). In the case of Oedipus, it is King Laius that initiates the conflict between himself and Oedipus who retaliates against the king and kills him in self-defense. When Oedipus is told the truth, he cannot understand what has happened, which is a direct result of being lied to about his biological parents. When Oedipus is finally able to piece together the fragmented facts that
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