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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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Introduction

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.."

Middle

Both characters have difficulties with their families - it is due to a family curse that Oedipus leaves his home to go to Thebes, and the fact that his father has brought his wife to stay with Hippolytus is the cause of his tragic events. Both characters are self-assured and egotistical - Oedipus thinks that he can run the city on his own as he is the king, and Hippolytus thinks that he is superior to the goddess Aphrodite. Oedipus is a victim of fate, whereas Hippolytus is disrespectful towards Aphrodite, therefore bringing about his own demise. 'I have no liking for a Goddess worshipped at night'. Oedipus had little choice about the action he took when he found out the truth about his life, whereas if Hippolytus had acted more sympathetically to Phaedra, he could have avoided the outcome of the play.

Conclusion

Although he is hot-tempered and impatient- bad characteristic traits in my belief; I still think Oedipus is a good ruler of the city, and has served his people well, obviously identifying with them. Oedipus' peripeteia is brought about through no direct fault of his own, but a combination of unlucky coincidences that overpowered his wish to escape his destiny whereas Hippolytus' downfall is brought about by his own conceit. Aristotle said that the most tragic of plays is witnessing a good man come to a bad end through a peripeteia, and Oedipus is clearly a better man than Hippolytus, making his fate all the more tragic. The fate of Oedipus shows that no matter how far you have come in life you can never escape your destiny, tragic just because it could happen to anyone. ?? ?? ?? ?? Michele Dominique 29.01.06

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