Midterm Exam Essay
In order to categorize a play as a tragedy, the definition of a ‘tragedy’ must be established. In order for a character to experience a tragedy, by definition, they must be a person who is, “in a high position and experiences a downfall due to a character flaw.” The characters in both Romeo and Juliet and Oedipus the King do not subscribe to this definition of a tragedy. Yes, both plays contained the downfall of the protagonists, but it was not due to a character flaw.
Oedipus the King; a book that has fueled psychological theories and sparked numerous debates. One of the most iconic and controversial plays written by none other than Greek genius and playwright, Sophocles. Sophocles wrote the play about Oedipus whose ill fate was inescapable. His fate was written for him, by none other than Apollo. His collapse and tragedy was inevitable. Although he had some bad characteristics, one cannot escape their fate. For something to be classified as a tragedy, the downfall needs to be in result of a character flaw; not an “ill-fated man” (p.61) as his wife and mother, Jocasta, describes him. Even Oedipus, the protagonist himself, blames Apollo for his downfall. On page 75, when asked why he blinded himself, Oedipus replies saying, “It was Apollo, friends. Apollo who brought to fulfillment all my sufferings.” He blames Apollo for ‘fulfilling’ his misery. He blames Apollo because he has the ability to plant and afflict any hardship he wants into a mere man’s life. That means Oedipus’ destruction was is result of the fate Apollo assigned to him; not a character flaw of his.
Destiny; defined as the, “predetermination of ones future.” One’s destiny is their objective in life. It is what they are bound to do. Oedipus’ story was pre written for him. That means that regardless of Oedipus’s character flaws, he was still destined to a life of ephemeral triumph and longtime agony. His downfall was decided by the Gods and had nothing to do with what characteristics he did or did not possess, thus proving that ‘Oedipus the King’ is not a tragedy; just a story about a man who was destined for failure from the moment he was born. Oedipus was merely a pawn of the gods; simply acting out the script that they themselves had written for him. He and his character flaws played no part in his downfall.
Shakespeare’s most recognized play would easily be ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ Known for the trials and tribulations the protagonists have to endure, it ends with the collapse and death of the protagonists. The main…