The word tragedy is when an event ends in misfortune. However, when the word tragedy is put in context within a play or a story it is a story circling around a protagonist who is of high power and stature. A tragedy is usually the development of a protagonist whose in conflict with a more superior force; the superior forces that the protagonist could be faced with is his destiny, free will and the Gods that rule over them. The end of a tragedy is usually the protagonist whose in a state of deterioration in which he loses everything. A tragic hero is meant to define his fate by himself, usually by actions that he inflicts on himself which then lead him to wreck his own life.
Aristotle is considered as one of the many ancient influential philosophers there is and therefore his view of Oedipus being an ideal tragic hero is considered as highly powerful in the world of literature. Aristotle defines tragedy as the conflict between humans being good yet being defeated by reality as their actions done with good intentions can actually bring back outcomes that were not initially wanted. In the play Oedipus by Sophocles, Oedipus is classed as a classic tragic hero by Aristotle for many of the characteristics he possesses. According to Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero; the tragic hero has to be realistic, true to life, consistent and true to themselves, consistent within the context of the narrative and has to make errors of judgement throughout the play but the results of what has been done should be the opposite of what was initially intended.
A tragic hero should be able to arouse feelings of pity and fear; this is because, the feeling of pity is aroused by our deep sympathy for someone whose life is falling out of place whereas that person is neither too good nor too evil to have deserved such a misfortune, and the feeling of fear is aroused by the sheer horror that such a tragedy can fall upon anyone regardless of their stature. According to Aristotle’s definition Oedipus is a tragic hero because he is a man of great power and influence over the city he rules and his life begins to deteriorate in front of everyone’s eyes as he goes on a quest to find out who he is. Aristotle says that a tragic hero must be the one to cause their own downfall in which Oedipus persistently decides to carry on asking questions about his origins. Also, the tragic hero’s fate is not deserved and his punishment exceeds his wrongdoings and that a tragic hero must be someone important and influential and he must be someone who makes an error of judgement. This error of judgement is seen when Oedipus forces Tiresias in anger to answer his questions of who his parents are, “Who? Wait; who are my parents?”, it is Oedipus’s own mistake in forcing answers in which he does not wish to hear or know.