Posted: May 13th, 2021
Oedipus meets all the criteria of a tragic hero. He is of noble birth with a character that is consistent throughout as a truth-seeker, always in quest of knowledge, and a riddle-solver wanting to be a savior of people; yet as every other person, he had his flaws, which reversed his prosperity.
His intelligence and stateliness is worthy of that of a king, so his doom fills the readers with pity and fear, which is the essence of a tragedy.
Though Oedipus realizes that fate had a hand in his doom, he knew he had his own flaws.
A woman can also be a tragic hero so long as she meets the criteria set for a tragic hero, and Antigone meets all the criteria. Yet I consider Oedipus to be the best tragic hero here, he being glorious and his fall, dramatic.
To go by Aristotle’s view, Antigone, Oedipus and Creon, all meet the criteria of being tragic heroes in that all of them face disastrous consequences because of certain fundamental flaws common to humanity.
(3)Antigone strongly felt Creon should not interfere in matters relating to religion, and
leaving the dead unburied was against the divine law. She defies Creon and does notever regret it even in the face of death. Thus her remark, “I do not think your edicts strong enough to overrule the unwritten unalterable laws of God and heaven, you being only a man.”
Creon on the other hand respects the rules of the state, and though he could have changed them, if he so chose, remains adamant that Polynice, her brother, be left to rot. Ismene does not act emotionally. She thinks twice about dying for the dead.
Antigone’s views clashed with that of the others in that she failed to see the impact of her action on those around her, for instance Haemon.
(4)The Greek view is that a tragic hero should ideally be a king so that his people also experience his fall. He should be venerable but imperfect so that the audience may associate themselves with him.
As great as the hero is, they feel his fall should be as great too, a calamity worthy of their hero. But modern-day hero is not necessarily of royal birth. He can rise to glory by contributing positively to the society or the world at large, and unlike the tragic hero, who often dies or survives only to suffer, may even be victorious, and his flaws are not fatal.
To quote Duane Lowry, a member of the American Political Historians Association, an American hero is “someone who embodies popular values and is the driving force behind an important social, political, or scientific change or transformation that lifts the spirit of America and betters the situation of the country.”
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