“A tragedy is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in appropriate and pleasurable language;… In a dramatic rather than narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish a catharsis of these emotions. ” This literary theory Is used as a tool for analyzing Greek tragedy. The drama Oedipus the King by Sophocles could be considered a tragedy and Oedipus considered a tragic hero by Aristotle definition, for it follows all five steps.
The first aspect of Aristotle definition of tragedy is “the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself”. What Aristotle means is that a good tragedy deals with one and only one issue throughout the entire play; this issue being especially serious and of high importance. For instance, the play Oedipus the King is based solely around one conflict: who murdered King Alias. In trying to figure this out, many truths are revealed about both Oedipus and Coast.
Treaties, the blind prophet, is the first to tell Oedipus that It was he who killed Alias, is real father, and married Coast, his real mother. Of course, neither Oedipus nor Coast believe this, until more pieces start to fall Into place First, Octant’s description of Alias’s death matched up almost perfectly with Oedipus encounter with a man who he ended up killing on the road. Then, a messenger from Corinth where Oedipus used to live arrived and explained that as a baby Oedipus was given to a shepherd who was asked to kill him, but the shepherd gave him up for adoption.
Upon hearing this, Coast immediately knows that Oedipus is her son. In the end she kills herself, and when Oedipus also realizes the horrible truth, he gouges his eyes out. The second aspect of Aristotle definition of tragedy is “in appropriate and pleasurable language”. This refers to the role of the chorus in ancient Greek plays. The chorus comments on the action of the play, sometimes singing their part, and brings rhythm to their lines. In Oedipus the King, the chorus comments on the actions of characters, foreshadows certain events, and essentially voices the pollen of the audience.
For Instance, the chorus gives advice to Oedipus, tries to calm him down in the scene with Treaties, defends Croon when Oedipus accuses him of plotting against him, and takes pity on Oedipus when they learn of his horrible past. Next in Aristotle definition of tragedy is the “dramatic rather than narrative form”. When a story is narrated, an outside voice is simply telling the story. In a play, the story is acted out by the different characters. This way, the audience has an insight to how the characters are thinking and feeling due to their actions, rather Han a narrator only relaying the story.
Oedipus the King is in a dramatic form because the story is being acted out and traumatized by the characters. These characters Include Oedipus, Coast, Croon, Treaties, the chorus, and other minor characters. The fourth aspect mentioned by Aristotle Is “with Incidents arousing pity and sorry for the main character, or tragic hero. This aspect applies tremendously to Oedipus the King. The audience pities Oedipus because we can see that he is the one who killed Alias, his birth father. The death of Alias and the marriage of Oedipus ND his birth mother Coast have the city of Thebes in turmoil.
Oedipus tries to get to the bottom of the murder, only revealing his true past. Although Oedipus doesn’t see it until the end, the audience can put two and two together. Oedipus ultimately makes himself go blind, and the audience feels sorry for him because of his terrible misfortune. He had heard of the prophecy when he was young that he would kill his father and marry his mother, so he ran away from his adoptive parents trying to spare them, not knowing they weren’t his real parents.
How was he to know that they weren’t his birth parents and that the man he killed on the road was king Alias, his father? That he would take the throne at Thebes and marry Coast, his mother? Oedipus didn’t bring any of his misfortune upon himself, it all came down to fate and that is why the audience feels sorry for him. The fifth and final aspect of Aristotle definition of tragedy is “wherewith to accomplish a catharsis of these emotions. ” Throughout the play, each event is meant to build up the emotions of the audience.
Finally, an event occurs where the audience has a catharsis, or release, of all of their emotions. In a tragedy this event is typically when the tragic hero “falls flat on his face”. In Oedipus the King, this would have to be the moment where Oedipus realizes the truth of what has happened. He runs to the palace to see that Coast has killed herself, and he proceeds to take pins off of her dress and stab them into his eyes, making himself go blind. He cries, muff, you’ll see no more the pain I suffered, all the pain I caused!
Too long you looked on he ones you never should have seen, blind to the ones you longed to see, to know! Blind from this hour on! Blind in the darkness-?blind! ” This is where Oedipus “falls flat on his face” and the audience releases their built up emotions. As you can see, Aristotle definition of a tragedy can often be used to analyze Greek plays. Oedipus the King by Sophocles follows Aristotle definition and displays each of the five aspects of a tragedy. This concludes that the Greek play Oedipus the King is a tragedy and Oedipus is indeed a tragic hero.