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Tragic Heroes: Oedipus, Antigone, and Medea.

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Tragic Heroes: Oedipus, Antigone, and Medea Aristotle assigned specific traits, thereby defining the tragic hero of Greek drama, and plays such as Oedipus Rex, Antigone, and Medea introduce three very different tragic heroes, which exhibit, for the most part, the characteristics described by Aristotle. The characters Oedipus, Antigone and Medea share qualities that make up a tragic hero: being of noble birth; being surrounded by an extraordinary circumstance, which spins out of control because of the hero's tragic flaw; gaining self-awareness or some kind of discovery through their downfall; and providing the audience with a sense of pity or fear. By examining the character Oedipus, one can see that he successfully carries all of the traits of a tragic hero as defined by Aristotle. Oedipus is of noble birth, being the child of King Laios and Queen Iokaste of Thebes, and after being saved from death by a Shepard, the King and Queen of Corinth, Polybos and Merope, took him in. By doing so, they keep Oedipus at a higher rank. ...read more.


Her quagmire occurs when, against the tenants of King Creon, she buries her brother Polyneices. In ancient Geece, this was considered to be Antigone's duty. The gods also mandated proper burial, but since Creon identified Polyneices as a traitor, burial is forbidden. He tells the people of Thebes that "...no one shall bury [Polyneices], no one morn for him, But his body must lie in the fields, a sweet treasure For carrion birds to find as they search for food" (108). Antigone gets caught in the act of burying her brother, and this marks the beginning of her downfall. Creon sentences her to be locked in a cave. His original decree would have had her stoned to death, but he revised this since Antigone is not only his niece, but also the fianc´┐Że of his son, Prince Haimon. She is left to die, apparently by suffocation or starvation; however, she hangs herself before Haimon can come to save her. In the case of Antigone, there is no apparent realization of wrongdoing. ...read more.


The Gods seem to condone what she has done. Like Oedipus, there is a discovery of wrongdoing; however, the audience reaction of this play seems to shift. At the beginning of the play, our sympathies are with Medea and what she has to go through, but in the end, we feel pity for Jason and how he is left with nothing. It is interesting that Medea who would normally signify a character of reproduction is turned into a seemingly anti-reproductive demon. Still, she fits within the tragic hero definition because she does finally discover her wrongdoing and how it leads to her downfall. Medea's life becomes miserable after she kills her own children and when she realizes she will never know love again. She is also devastated after being exiled from her home city, and she identifies her pain and suffering as a "broken heart." The Greek heroes Oedipus, Antigone and Medea share, in varying degrees, most of the qualities that make up a tragic hero: being of noble birth, being surrounded by an extraordinary circumstance, and gaining self-awareness or some kind or knowledge through their downfall, which, in some cases, helps audiences view them as sympathetic. ...read more.

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