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To what extent is hamartia present in the opening of Oedipus Rex?

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Introduction

To what extent is hamartia present in the opening of Oedipus Rex? Hamartia is a Greek word used in literature to mean the flaw in a person's character, which leads to the downfall of the main protagonist in a tragedy. Aristotle describes it as an injury done in ignorance either of the person concerned or of the possible results of the action. Hamartia is most commonly used within the genre of tragedy. According to Aristotle tragedy should be arranged on the complex plan, but it should also imitate feelings of pity and fear for the main protagonist. Oedipus Rex was a classic Athenian tragedy written by Sophocles and first performed circa 429 BC. The story of Oedipus is actually known before the beginning of the play. Romeo and Juliet mirrors this particular technique. ...read more.

Middle

This extract is written in the form of a speech, given by Oedipus himself to the people of Thebes. This speech expresses his anger, pride and ignorance. The play is opened with 'Oh Thebans', which is the first example, where the audience can see Oedipus confidently expressing his excessive pride or hubris. The trend is then continued throughout the extract, which eventually leads to his end. Oedipus' hamartia is hubris. Oedipus is a very proud character as he confidently talks about 'the honour of the King' and 'speaking for the God's'. The extract is littered with ironic phrases, such as Oedipus wanting the villain 'to die a villain's death'. The use of irony coupled with his excessive pride clearly seals his own fate. The audience is welcomed to mock Oedipus at his unknowing use of irony. ...read more.

Conclusion

It can be agreed that the definition of Hamartia can and does differ from person to person. To conclude I do not think that this story has as big an impact as it would have done at the time. A present - day audience would enjoy it more if they did not already know the ending of the story. Nowadays we rely on the suspense. Also it would have had a bigger impact on the audience at the time of when this piece was written, because they had a greater belief in fate. Today we are less so inclined to believe in fate, and that our one true path has already been laid out for us. Hamartia has been used quite explicitly and helps to set out the rest of the play. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamartia ...read more.

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