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Tragic Dramas of Oedipus Rex and Antigone - Essay Example

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In the days of ancient Greece and Rome, people didn't have such easy access to entertainment as we do now. …
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Tragic Dramas of Oedipus Rex and Antigone
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"Tragic Dramas of Oedipus Rex and Antigone"

Download file to see previous pages It was up to the playwrights to teach the people how to behave and the rules of society within the metropolis. While many of the plays were comedies, demonstrating the more ridiculous consequences that could be experienced if individuals did not abide by the established codes of conduct, others were dramas, revealing much more serious potentialities that could affect more than just the average citizen. As they were presented, these dramas demonstrated the degree to which the entire culture could be disrupted if someone in power chose to break the rules. Some of these dramas have survived into the modern day because they had such a profound effect on their audiences and told stories about mythological or legendary characters and events. Dramas such as Oedipus Rex and Antigone are good examples of this kind of tragic drama. To qualify as a tragic drama, Aristotle identified three main factors that were present in every tragic drama and which were essential to the plot development. These factors were referred to as hamartia, anagnorisis and peripeteia. The term hamartia commonly refers the idea of a tragic flaw (Aristotle, 1282). It is the concept that a noble person will fail due to some inherent flawed portion of his character which causes him to engage in a specific behavior pattern or make an error in judgment rather than due to the manipulations of a vengeful god or as a result of violating the gods' laws. Although the audience might see it, even they are not necessarily supposed to recognize the hero's mistake or misbehavior at the time he commits it, but it will eventually become clear through the action of the play that without this mistake, the tragedy would not have happened. This eventual realization of the initial mistake on the part of the character is what is referred to as anagnorisis (Aristotle, 1283). In Aristotelian terms, this word essentially means recognition. In most cases, this realization occurs suddenly for the character in a kind of epiphany moment when the hero finally understands that they brought this fate on themselves. This epiphany can also shed light on the true nature of all the characters within the play, sometimes something much different than what was expected or assumed. The anagnorisis leads naturally into the third element, that of peripeteia. This term refers to a sudden reversal in action or position based upon logic and intellect (Aristotle, 1283). In tragic drama, it refers to the reversal of the character's fortunes - everything they had is lost. This reversal of fortunes flows naturally as a part of the story, but it usually takes the audience, and the character, by surprise. Although this idea can be traced as a part of the hero’s character, it was more typically used to refer to the external circumstances surrounding the event and the character. Understanding these key elements of a tragic drama helps modern day students characterize these plays simply by looking to see if they adhere to the concepts. In Oedipus the King, for example, the action opens as Oedipus addresses his people, who have come to him hoping he will cure their city of a plague. Rather than encourage them to pray to the gods, Oedipus ridicules them for their prayers and tells them they should have come to him first: “What means this reek of incense everywhere, / From others, and am hither come, myself, / I ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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