tragoed Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex) and Greek Tragedy Essay

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Oedipus Rex as a Great Greek Tragedy

The reader is told in Aristotle's Poetics that tragedy "arouses the emotions of pity and fear, wonder and awe" (The Poetics 10). To Aristotle, the best type of tragedy involves reversal of a situation, recognition from a character, and suffering. The plot has to be complex, and a normal person should fall from prosperity to misfortune due to some type of mistake. Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, is a great example of a Greek tragedy. Its main plot is Oedipus' goal to find out his true identity, the result being his downfall by finding out he has married his own mother and killed his father. The three unities, noble character, and complex plot, are what make Oedipus Rex a good example of a tragedy in
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The Chorus asks if the gods could even exist if the forebearings of Oedipus' life turn out to be false because, after all, the people have only known the gods through the prophets:

Divine Zeus and Apollo hold

Perfect intelligence alone of all tales ever told;-

For wisdom changes hands among the wise.

Shall I believe my great lord criminal

At a raging word that a blind old man let fall?

-These evil words are lies. (Literature Structure, Sound, and Sense 1031)

The use of recognition is clearly noted when a messenger comes to Oedipus to deliver the news of Polybus' death. At first, this is depicted as good news because Polybus was thought to be Oedipus' father. Oedipus knows that he did not kill Polybus, so he thinks the prediction of the oracle did not come true. Jokasta and Oedipus do not show remorse when first hearing the news; instead, they feel relief. Soon enough, they realize the appearance of the good news turns out to be dreadful.

A sense of pathos adds to the sense of tragedy in the play. As the audience watches the play, they become mortified as the plot unfolds. There is fear and uncertainty in the beginning because of the plague. "The breath of incense rises from the city/ With a sound of prayer and lamentation" (Structure 1018). Later in the play, Jokasta and the audience realize with horror what has transpired. Just the thought of a son

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