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Who deserved his fate more- Hippolytus or Oedipus? The satisfaction the reader gains from the two characters is based on a number of factors, including the traditional definitions of a tragic hero

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  • Essay length: 659 words
  • Submitted: 02/05/2006
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AS and A Level Classics

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Who deserved his fate more- Hippolytus or Oedipus?

The satisfaction the reader gains from the two characters is based on a number of factors, including the traditional definitions of a tragic hero, as set down by Aristotle, and the sympathy one feels towards the characters themselves.

Aristotle's definition of the ultimate aim of tragedy was to bring about "catharsis";to arouse the spectators' sensations of pity and fear for the characters in the play so that, by the end of it, they were left with a heightened understanding of the superiority of the Gods and the role of Fate in people's lives.

"Character determines men's qualities, but it is their action that makes them happy or wretched.."

Aristotle also believed that the incidents of tragedy are often beyond the protagonist's control or not closely related to his/her personality. Since the aim of tragedy is to arouse pity and fear through the"peripeteia"of the central figure, the character must be a figure with whom the audience can easily identify with and whose fate can trigger these emotions.

Pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune, as illustrated in the cases of Oedipus and Hippolytus. Aristotle defines the ideal

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