Last Updated 25 May 2020

According to Aristotle

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According to Aristotle, Oedipus is an archetypal tragic hero. Plot plays an integral role in developing Oedipus’s character throughout the play which thus impacts the play's storyline. Aristotle states that “The plot is the imitation of the action:-for by plot I here mean the arrangement of the incidents” (Aristotle 01). In this quote Aristotle emphasizes the importance of plot development. He explains how each event has a specific role in the playing out of the tragedy. In the beginning of Odedipus Rex, the audience assumes that Odepois is a sympathetic king who cares about his people.

However, as one reads further on Odepoi’s true character is revealed. Subsequently “the most powerful elements of emotional interest in Tragedy-Peripeteia or Reversal of the Situation, and Recognition scenes-are parts of the plot” (Aristotle 01). These are the most prominent characteristics of the tragic genre. Furthermore they play a key role in drawing the reader’s attention. Significant emotional upheaval occurs when it is revealed that Odepois himself fulfils the prophecy and has killed the prior king. Without the emotional aspect of the play, the reader would not relate to the character or understand the plot.

A person's character remains less important than a person's actions as Artistrole argues, “Now character determines men’s qualities, but it is by their actions that they are happy or the reverse” (Aristotle 01). The character supports the plot due to the personal motivation that precisely connected part of the cause-and-effect chain of actions thus producing pity and fear in the audience. Odepois’s determination to finding the murdered of laius, the original king, even though many warned him from discovering the truth is the play's main story-line.

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The prophecy that Odepois had fulfilled, played a major role in his character development throughout the play. As Aristotle states, “Now any speech or action that manifests moral purpose of any kind will be expressive of character: the character will be good if the purpose is good” (Aristotle 06). Aristotle explains the importance of the actions of the character and the impact his or her actions will make on the audience, that the actions of the character defines their characteristics.

Odepois's blaming of individuals, when in search for the true murderer of Laius whilst remaining unaware of the facts, shows how over dramatic and hasty he is. This foreshadows the future due to the actions that were going to occur because of Odepois’s characteristics. Lastly, he states that the consistency (true to them) is a quality a character should have in a tragedy. Once a character’s personality and motivations are established, these should continue throughout the play as he defends, “For though the subject of the imitation, who suggested the type, be inconsistent, still he must be consistently inconsistent” (Aristotle 06).

Aristotle suggests that a character should stay in role throughout the play in order to maintain a personal connection from the audience. “But, of all recognition, the best is that which arises from the incidents themselves, where the startling discovery is made by natural means” (Aristotle 07). In Odepois, when Odepois discovers that the prophecy was fulfilled after all, he realizes it was not due to another individual but by fate or nature. This explains how the characteristics of the character play out in creating the plot. Therefore, Odepois would be an example of a tragic hero according to Artistotle's standards.

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