In Aristotle’s eyes, tragedy is defined as a bad thing that happens to a good person. It is an event that is both pitied and feared, and is the inescapable result of actions of the victim. While in a melodrama the characters’ fates are uncertain and are controlled solely by plot, in a tragedy “we demand an unquestionable inevitability; nothing may happen in [the] play which is not a logical result of the nature of his characters.”1 A victim of tragedy was destined to that outcome: they were born with certain characteristics that inclined them to perform certain actions, which eventually caused their demise.
The goal of a tragedy, Aristotle said, is to make the audience identify with the protagonist, and when tragedy strikes to invoke them with emotions of fear and pity. They feel “phobos” for themselves, fear that tragedy might strike at anytime, regardless of who they are; through pity, “eleos”, they are empathetic and identify with the victim. Ultimately, our spirit is “elevated”: although we are glad that the tragedy is not happening to us, we do not feel a sense of superiority nor do we look down on what is pitied. As our emotions are manipulated we reach a higher philosophical medium and enhance our understanding of the human condition.
2)Behaviorally and psychologically, we as mankind reflect the tragedy that was the “fall” of Adam and Eve. When they ate the forbidden fruit, man was distinguished as the sole species that would have inherent consciousness of inevitable tragedy in life. Whether beneficial to the species or not, Adam and Eve’s “fall” resulted in human’s inherent wisdom. All in all, this “fall” was inevitable; Adam and Eve are guilty of being human whether they wish it or not.
In the story God asks Adam and Eve to avoid the tree of knowledge because he knows that if humans are able to obtain that knowledge, they will defy him. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat; for, the day you eat of that, you are doomed to die,”2 says God, sending a very clever threat to Adam. The day he eats the fruit he will not actually die, however on that day he will become aware of his inescapable fate, and thus be“doomed to die”.
There are many psychological purposes taught in the story, shown through the actions of God’s humans. Adam and Eve are told to not take fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and in result are more enticed to do so. They are guilty of being humans simply because of this trait, a constant juggle between obedience and disobedience. Eve is the first to eat the fruit, showing impulsiveness and curiosity for the unknown. This crime, taking from the tree, was the original sin; an integral part of the human psyche is demonstrated. This “fall” shows the mental complexities of the human species: Adam and Eve are guilty of being human whether they wish it or not.
After eating the fruit, Adam and Eve gain self awareness; before, they had no prior knowledge of their own being or non-being. It opens up their eyes to the future and possibilities, but at the same time it gives them the awareness of non-existence. Consumption of the fruit gave them the gift of realization. After Adam and Eve at it, “the eyes of both of them were opened and they realised that they were naked.”3 They had fallen, and were truly humans.
3)One’s personal identity is a very important thing, and those who don’t know theirs usually feel a strong need or desire to discover it. But in the end is it worth is? How much knowledge must one dig through before finding the answers they seeked, and what knowledge might hurt them along the way? In the book, the king’s pursuit to discover his identity is a sacrifice of happiness to gain knowledge. Oedipus the…