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Comparing oedipus and antigone as tragic heroes
Pages 6 (1506 words)
The conception of tragic heroes has changed significantly since Aristotle first laid down the rules for defining tragedy in his Poetics. In its origins in ancient Greek drama, a tragic hero could only be a member of royalty and almost always male. By Shakespeare's day the gender mattered slightly less, though bloodlines still retained a high level of import.
It wasn't until Shakespeare's day, in fact, a tragic hero was expected to die at the end. Today, the character's death is almost the only aspect that makes him tragic. An example of how completely the idea of a tragic hero has devolved can be made by pointing to the example of the character Jack in the movie Titanic, who has been unofficially declared a tragic hero by the millions of fans of that particular film. A comparison of the qualities of that character with any of the classic definitions of a tragic hero clearly shows the divide that has been wrought over the years. That divide had, of course, been widening since long before the film was made, but nonetheless the question raised is whether a true classic tragic hero could be realized in drama in the 20th century and into the new millennium. Aristotle lists Sophocles' Oedipus Rex as an example of perfection in creating a tragedy, and indeed the character of Oedipus himself is almost synonymous with tragedy. Oedipus lives in a cosmological universe governed by a force that knows the route of his fate but has no control over it; Antigone lives in a universe governed by a force that controls her fate but doesn't know the route it will take. ...
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