Aristotle's View on Tragedy Thesis

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¶ … Tragedy, with an Emphasis on Oedipus Rex

Tragedy, by definition, indicates suffering of some kind. On the surface, we will regard tragedy as negative, citing that someone, somewhere suffers because of it. In the field of drama, tragedy imitates life and, consequently, suffering. Sometimes there are no "happy endings" because life rarely ends that way. In short, suffering happens because life happens. However, this suffering does not render tragedy meaningless or without purpose in the grand scheme of things. In fact, when approached with the proper attitude, tragedy is a valuable commodity because it helps people learn to cope with tragedy in their own lives. In the best of worlds, it helps people avoid tragedy. We need only look to Sophocles' play, Oedipus Rex, to see the positive results of a tragic play. Because of the education it provides, tragedy has a not only beneficial, but also a positive, affect on man.

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Let us look at the character of Oedipus for our first lesson. One of the most satisfying aspects of Oedipus' characters is the fact that he is gloriously human. Even in his royalty, he lives and breathes with the same pride that drives many men of lesser stature. Oedipus is also self-righteous and, as a result, this distorts his judgment. He refuses to admit the truth, even as all facts point in its direction. He cannot see he is to blame for Laius' murder and he cannot see he is married to his own mother. All of these things make Oedipus a powerful character because it is obvious that his stature has absolutely nothing to do with his intelligence or logic. This is significant because it teaches audiences that while tragedy can strike randomly, it also has a tendency to strike when people do not face issues in their lives.

Thesis on Aristotle's View on Tragedy Assignment

Oedipus' story is tragic and this has nothing to do with his kingship. However, the fact he is king makes the story more interesting and education, so to speak. It teaches audiences that no one is beyond the consequences of silly human behavior. The fact that Oedipus is king adds drama to the tragedy taking place. The man is king but he is in no way safe or exempt from making his life more complicated than it needs to be. He is human, first and foremost. Aristotle addresses this fact in Poetics, noting the king is not entirely good or evil but simply real. His humanity makes his or her "misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty" (Aristotle XIII). This humanity and his human actions are his flaw.

Unfortunately, the tragedy in Sophocles' play goes beyond this flaw and, as a result, falls in line with what Aristotle feels constitutes a tragedy. Aristotle posited the tragic drama must also induce pity, sympathy or dread in relation to the hero. With Oedipus, this does occur and with real emotion. As fear builds, the audience realizes Oedipus' fate. There is no denying he does behave foolishly but no one argues that he deserves this fate. The Aristotelian definition of a tragedy declares the hero must experience catharsis, an action that brings the drama full circle. Oedipus' catharsis is tragic and dreadful. The same man that solved the Sphinx's riddle is the same arrogant man that refuses to see the truth. His tragedy is that he never stopped long enough to consider the consequences and while he could have never imagined such a terrible fate, he realizes he could have lived blissfully… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Aristotle's View on Tragedy.  (2011, October 4).  Retrieved April 8, 2020, from

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"Aristotle's View on Tragedy."  4 October 2011.  Web.  8 April 2020. <>.

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"Aristotle's View on Tragedy."  October 4, 2011.  Accessed April 8, 2020.