The Tragedy OF THIS Goat Song English Literature Essay

Literary, the word tragedy means "a goat song". This may be in reference to the act of providing a goat as a prize or sacrifice during Greek religious festivals in appreciation to the god Dionysos. It doesn't matter how the term may have enter into existence, it came to show a dramatic presentation for noble and high seriousness character is poetry and drama. The type seeks to recognize how man understands the will of the gods and this is of life in the presence of death. In tragedy, individuals are put to check by severe suffering and must face the consequences. Easterling & Knox (1985) explain that while a lot of people might meet up with the challenges with actions of dreadful cruelty, some demonstrate the will and ability to surpass adversity and therefore winning the admiration of man and proving to be great individuals in society (Easterling & Knox, 1985). The paper will get started giving Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero and later provide explanations as to the reasons Sophocles' Oedipus fits this definition.

There are a number of characteristics that Aristotle uses to define a tragic hero but one common aspect among all of them is that the average person has some greatness but he's not perfect and for that reason ends up triggering his own downfall. Even though punishment is not wholly deserved, it is not totally a loss since there is some positive aspect it comes with. As an example the individual gets more recognized in the society. In Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, Oedipus who is the main character is depicted as a true hero since childhood but later contributes to his own downfall making him the best exemplory case of a tragic hero.

Discussion of Oedipus' character that makes him a tragic hero

Compassion and good intentions of his actions

The unfortunate unfolding of events in Oedipus' life makes him a tragic hero. Looking at his character you can fail to realize his compassion and his understanding that he was doing the right thing. His morals and intentions are therefore good and in cases where he makes errors, they still have some dedicated loyalty. To commence with, he was given a prophecy as a kid that he was to kill his father and marry his mother. Because of his good intensions, he made a decision to run away so that he could not experience what he previously been prophesized about. There is some compassion in the choice he made because no good man would want to kill his father let alone marrying his own mother (Hammond, 2009). Although it's clear that he had good intension in taking fate in his hands and running away, it actions brought about opposite effects to what he had anticipated.

According to Rosenberg (2001), the hero valued skill, strength, determination and courage. These are the attributes that can enable an individual to achieve the honor and glory both in life and when he's dead. Despite his bad temper, he is also a compassionate human being as illustrated when he addresses the citizens of the town. He explains to them of how he understands the issues they were going through and it was for this reason that he pitied them. He adds that even though every citizen of the city only looked after his good heath and belonging, he cares and grieves for the whole city, its citizens and himself. Oedipus went on and said of how he understood how sick the citizens were but he was quick to include that as sick as these were, there sickness could not compare to his. (Sophocles 1226).

Great wisdom and heroic

When the play begins, Oedipus is portrayed as a great intellect by the people who consider him to be of great wisdom. He single handedly saved the Thebes society when he unraveled the Sphinx riddle and was granted Kingship. So many people adored him. The priest even talks of how he freed the Thebes from the Sphinx and continues on to say a god was with Oedipus (Sophocles, 1999). As the king, he vowed to sentence the individual who killed his dad King Laius to death (Slattery, 1989). He's seen to react violently to situations he finds himself in because he makes decisions while he's in anger. According to Kaplain & Schwartz (2008), Oedipus volunteered to search for the murderer of Laius and even cursed the killer to a life of solitude and misery. Both continue to explain that there was no stopper that could make the responsibility that Oedipus was going right through. Instead things continue steadily to unfold one at a time. Though he wanted to change his fate, he ended up killing his father Lauis and went ahead and married his mother. When he came to learn the reality of what he previously done, he had to stand by his word and face his own judgment. He was so ashamed of trying to change his fate and even left the kingdom. Since he was struggling to forgive himself for what he had done, he was murdered mentally. His life is therefore destroyed when he realized the true story.

Arouses pity and fear

As defined by Aristotle, a tragic hero is one whose story arouses fear and pity from the audience. Looking at how things unfolded in Oedipus' life, you mostly likely will feel pity for him since it is clear that he had good intensions for his actions but he results in tragedy making him a tragic hero. The audience feels some sense of catharsis. That is an emotional purging. For an individual to arouse some sense of fear or pity he has to be of any heroic stature as Aristotle and caring explains. As the king, Oedipus was very caring. He took care of his people with a great deal love. He says "Tell me, rather than doubt that I'll help you" (Sphoricles, 13). Easterling & Knox indicate that Aristotle believes that fear and pity will arise from the change from good fortune to bad of a person who is neither conspicuous for a vice nor virtue. Moreover this is a man whose downfall is not because of his wickedness but because of an error (Easterling & Knox, 1985). Oedipus brevity is seen when he frees metropolis from its walls of famine. When he was awarded Kingship, he attains the heroic stature. Everything happened after came when Oedipus had already attained the heroic stature. It is because of his suffering that metropolis was saved from the plague. Even though he went for exile, it was all for the nice of the individuals. As you would expect, seeing someone leave a city he previously saved arouses some empathy in the audience. The folks of metropolis are deeply heartbroken, sad and sympathetic to him. Also, they are appreciative of Oedipus willingness to save lots of the location by going to exile. There had never been such a renowned price in Thebes. People believed that he was the one king who had treated them with equality: the people love him as much as he loves them.

Suffer because of his errors

Miller (xxxx) believes that an person that is admired by many atlanta divorce attorneys place he goes and need this admiration to continue has extreme narcissism which needs to be grandiosity. This sort of narcissism is witnessed when an individual greatly admires himself, his beauty, quality, talent, cleverness, achievements and success. However, when one of these things fails, then your possibility of the severe depression is not too far. When the Herdsmen told Oedipus of whom his mother was, he could not believe it. In fact he laments to be born where he was not likely to (Sophocles, 1999). He was blinded by his grandiosity to pursue the questioning of his fate being unsure of that even though it is not deserved there was hardly any he could do to improve it. Exactly like Aristotle says, a tragic hero must have problems with his own actions. The identical applies to Oedipus because he ended up suffering for your choice he took even though he previously good intension when doing what he did.

By mentioning sickness, he will not refer to the normal or biological sickness we are being used to. He instead refers to metal sickness and rage he had with all the current questions running in his mind. He tells the citizens that he shared their sorrow and pain and may not even afford to sleep since he was busy looking for answers to the suffering the city was going through. Just like Aristotle expects of a tragic hero, Oedipus is a compassionate man who goes out to search for the truth on behalf of his people. Because of his heroic status, he chose a series of actions which resulted in his downfall. For instance, he had the opportunity to leave the plague alone and continue on with his own life but because of his heroic status he finished up taking on the duty of looking for the cure of the plague. His pity for the suffering citizens also compelled him to look for answers from the Oracle of Delphi.

Aristotle explains a tragic hero has to be an important person in the society who makes an error in his judgment and eventually ends up suffering the consequences. This characteristic is seen when Oedipus pressures Teiresias to tell him the precise truth about his father's name and his destiny. Even though Teiresias warns him about the hideous sin he previously been wrapped in together with is loved ones, Oedipus still insists on being told the reality (Sophocles, 1999). In the end when Teiresias simply tried to slowly tell him the reality, Oedipus could not take some of that because of his pride. He completely refuses to accept that he was in charge of the crime. Later own he came to realize that there is more alive than an individual's fate (Kaplain & Scwartz, 2008).

Ego, pride and temper

As the King, the three characteristics that made Oedipus fall on his knees are ego, pride and temper. He was overwhelmed by his pride which even became his weakness. His ego is also evident when he says it was wrong for his children to get the truth from other messengers. This is a sign that he was the only person to pass the reality to his children. He even adds that the planet new his fame (Sophocles 1225). It is this same pride that makes him to accuse his uncle/brother falsely. His temper is evident when he tells Creon that he wanted him dead. Creon however tells him that it was wrong to take a bad man for good and a good man for bad and that he was to witness the true meaning of this sooner than later. Oedipus temper is therefore another cause of his downfall.

Oedipus nobility deceived him since it only showed his wonderful and perfect face but not his mental status (Miller xxxx). He was emotionally blind and therefore could not understand that his good intensions would bring him misery. He later own realizes that his actions were wrong when he says "what use are my eyes if you ask me, who could never see anything enjoyable again?"(Sophocles, 1999, 1293). Although he's a good man, he makes some wrong decisions and eventually ends up suffering because of them. If Oedipus had not been so narcissistic or judgmental, he'd not need ended the life span of King Laius or described Teiresias as a liar.

Oedipus inner strength to pursue the truth at whatever cost makes him a great person. He also offers the strength to endure whatever truth was found. His inner strength is also illustrated when he asks to be driven by Creon a long way away from the sight of everyone to a land where he will not be in a position to here any of their voices. He therefore accepts his mistake and is preparing to take on whatever punishment he was handed. There is absolutely no single time when Oedipus laments why all those things was happening to him. Slattery (1989) explains that whenever a hint is directed at a hero about the implication of his fate and magnitude of his mission, he quickly rushes towards it. His poor judgment and anger is also demonstrated by his intensions to commit a homicide against Jocasta who was simply no more a wife before Oedipus but instead a betraying mother who had abandoned his child. This is why why he was ready to kill her. Kaplan & Schwartz (2008) state that after Oedipus had known who her mother was, he rushed to the palace and then find that Jocasta had hanged herself. This is when he blinds himself because he cannot face either the dead or the living. As Oedipus blinding ends the play, it also gives some enlightenment about his tragic ending or heroism. There is a likelihood that if he had found her alive, he'd have killed her. Such kind of judgment and high temper make him a tragic hero.

Aristotle believes that every tragic hero has some downfall. Oedipus fall from grace however starts at the climax of the play when he discovers himself. The messenger realizes that the child he saved some times back was the King. The special facet of this discovery is not for the messenger but also for the King who realizes who he was. This is the reason why he blinds himself understanding that the prophesy he had run away from has either way been fulfilled. The tragic fall makes the audience visit a blind and helpless sufferer rather than the respected hero we knew initially. Hence, it is because of his miscalculations like Aristotle says that he becomes a tragic hero. Despite the fact that Oedipus is the King and for that reason should be leading by example, his pride and rage makes him a bud example to the society. He becomes very stubborn and even forces the Herdsmen to simply tell him about his past (Easterling & Knox, 1985). This also plays a part in his downfall.


Oedipus properly fits Aristotle's description of any tragic hero because he possesses all the characteristics and rules with an anagnorisis, hamartia and peripeteia. The audience is first introduced to the tragic flow of Oedipus at the beginning of the play. He believes that he could avoid his own fate that was presented with through the oracle at Delphi stating that he was to marry his mother after killing his dad. By leaving the city, he thought that he could change the will of the gods. The audience however realizes that you cannot run away from your fate. Once an oracle has been passed, there is very little you can change no matter where he hides. The oracle was therefore bound to become a reality regardless of how long it would take. Oedipus' hamartia is his belief that he could change the outcome of the oracle. His anagnorisis is witnessed when he gets the news that he was married to his own mother and way more he is accountable for the death of former King Lauis. Oedipus alongside the folks of Thebes had been searching for the person who killed the former King in order that they could drive him out of the location and eliminate plague only to discover that it was their own King Oedipus whom they really loved.

Oedipus is then led to his downfall because he previously to stick by his words for the error he previously made. To get started with, he's put to shame prior to the whole city for the idea of marrying his own mother & most importantly he involves recognize that despite all his effort, he had not avoided the oracle. The aspect of tragic hero therefore is all about the fact despite being truly a great man with intelligence, he unknowingly makes and error and it costs him in the long run. He faces both good and the bad in life but his evil side becomes more conspicuous than the good thinks he did. Although he is certainly not perfect like any other human being, he blinded by his own ego and won't believe the reality. According to Smith (2009) physical sight is generally associated with truth, knowledge, and light while darkness is associated with the opposites of most these. However it is ironical that the blind Teirsisas is able to see the particular fully sighted King Oedipus could not see. When he finally able to see, he terns blind. This even arouses pity in the audience and leaves them feeling catharsis.

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