The Audience Emotional

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The main purpose of tragedy is to make the audience emotional in ways of fearfulness and sadness, and that is exactly what Oedipus has accomplished. Throughout Oedipus’ journey of finding the murder that killed his father, Laius, to lift the curse, Aristotle considers the character of Oedipus in Oedipus the King by Sophocles an archetypal and typical tragic hero. Oedipus experiences anagnorisis: an increase in self-awareness, peripeteia: a reversal in fortune that brings destruction into Oedipus’ life, and catharsis: events that cause pitiful and fearful emotion in the audience.
One tragic hero element identified in Oedipus the King is anagnorisis.

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Anagnorisis, according to The Essay Club are the actions that resulted in an increase of self-awareness. Creon told Oedipus to go meet with Tiresias because he accused Oedipus of being the murderer. Oedipus got angry and wanted Creon murdered. Anagnorisis is demonstrated when Oedipus finds out the truth from Jocasta and says, O woe me! Me thinks unwittingly I laid a dread curse on myself (Sophocles 26). Oedipus brought this major problem upon himself and his actions resulted in great self-consciousness.

Peripeteia is also another tragic hero element shown in Oedipus the King. Peripeteia, also defined by The Essay Club, is the reversal of fate from the hero’s experiences. Peripeteia is demonstrated when Oedipus was being told he is not the King’s real son and said, And I was held foremost citizen, Till a strange thing fell before me, strange indeed (Sophocles 27). There was a clear reversal in fortune for Oedipus. Life was going along fine for Oedipus, he had a solid family and was well respected until he was being accused of not being the King’s true son.

In addition to anagnorisis and peripeteia, another tragic hero element demonstrated in Oedipus the King is catharsis. The Essay Club also defined catharsis as the emotion felt by the audience for the character. Catharsis is shown when Oedipus realizes he was the cause of his mother dying and was the one who killed his father by stating: Therefore wait to see life’s endings ere thou count one mortal blest; wait till free from pain and sorrow he has gained his final rest (Sophocles 51). Oedipus created pity and fear in the audience by making them feel sorry for what has happened to him. Oedipus admits wrongdoings as he explains, which leads to the audience feeling fearful for his future to come.

Oedipus demonstrated anagnorisis when he made the mistake and put a curse on himself instead of Creon, which resulted in knowledge of self- consciousness. Oedipus also experienced peripeteia, which was the good to bad change when he was being blamed for not being the King’s son. And lastly, catharsis was shown when Oedipus made the audience relieved that they don’t have the experience of killing their own parents, like how he does. Without the critical components of anagnorisis, peripeteia, and catharsis, the story Oedipus the King would not be tragic and there would be no tragic hero. A cautious examination of Oedipus and how he meets and exceeds the concepts of the ideal tragic hero reveals he deserves the title.

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The Audience Emotional. (2019, Nov 18). Retrieved September 28, 2022 , from
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