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Discuss the ways in which the character of Oedipus in Oedipus the King conforms to the conventions of the tragic hero. In your discussion refer to how the issues explored in the play have a wider significance than the tragedy of Oedipus as an individual.

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Introduction

Assessment 9: Short Essay - Drama Discuss the ways in which the character of Oedipus in Oedipus the King conforms to the conventions of the tragic hero. In your discussion refer to how the issues explored in the play have a wider significance than the tragedy of Oedipus as an individual. Oedipus the King is one of the Three Theban Plays written by Sophocles in around 400 B.C. It is a prime example of tragedy, and through the use of a tragic hero, conforms to the typical conventions of a tragic drama. Issues explored in the play such as destiny and hubris have a wider significance than just the tragedy of Oedipus as an individual - they are recurring traits of tragedies that have been mimicked through the ages. In order to examine the conventions followed by Oedipus the King, it is first necessary to define tragedy. The term tragedy is applied broadly to literary, and especially to dramatic, representations of serious and important actions which turn out disastrously for the main character. Aristotle defined tragedy as 'the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having multitude, complete in itself.' ...read more.

Middle

At the beginning of Oedipus the King, Oedipus is held in very high esteem after saving Thebes from the curse of the Sphinx and becoming king virtually overnight. Oedipus is a man of swift action and great insight. He is always anticipating his subjects' needs and it is clear that he possesses many qualities which make him an excellent leader. For example, when the priest hints that he should send to Delphi for help with the plague, he has already done so; when the chorus suggests sending for Tiresias, the prophet has already been summoned and in on the way. Later in the play, however, we see that Oedipus' habit of acting quickly can also have negative implications. When he tells the story of killing the band of travelers who he met at the crossroads, Oedipus shows that he has the capacity to behave rashly. In his search for the truth, Oedipus shows himself to be a thinker, a man good at unraveling mysteries. This is the same characteristic that brought him to Thebes; he was the only man capable of solving the Sphinx's riddle. ...read more.

Conclusion

An obvious example is the plague that spreads through Thebes - no doubt a sign from the Gods. In order to put an end to the plague Oedipus must find the Laius' killer, a task that he was very confident of accomplishing. However, when Tiresias tries to tell Oedipus that he himself was the killer, Oedipus, being so arrogant and overconfident, doesn't believe him and accuses him of lying. Another example of Oedipus' hubris is when the messenger from Corinth comes to Thebes to tell Oedipus of his father's death. Upon hearing this, Oedipus believed that he had defied the gods and escaped his fate; only later did he find out the truth. Oedipus the King conforms to the typical conventions of a tragic drama through the use of a tragic hero, Oedipus. The qualities of the tragic hero reflect recurring human qualities and thus continue to connect with audiences of any generation. The issues explored in the play rely on the way people are naturally fascinated by power and status and despite the differences in society, are still universally recognized and have a wider significance than just the tragedy of Oedipus as an individual. ?? ?? ?? ?? Alex Clark 11.9 ...read more.

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