Oedipus and Othello Exemplify Aristotle’s Definition of a Tragic Hero

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Throughout our history, many genres have survived the test of time. One of the most well known and popular genre is the tragedy. A tragedy tells a story of the downfall of a basically good person through some fatal error or misjudgment, producing suffering and insight on the part of the protagonist and arousing pity and fear on the part of the audience. One of the main authorities on tragedy is ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle. His piece of literature, Poetics, is highly regarded as one of the main sources used to define what makes a tragedy. In each tragedy, there must be a tragic hero to carry out the plot of the story. In addition, the protagonist must conform to specific guidelines according to Aristotle to be considered a …show more content…
Therefore, Oedipus and Othello exemplify Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero.

Oedipus the King takes place in Ancient Greece in the city of Thebes. The protagonist of the story is Oedipus. It is made clear at the beginning of the play that Oedipus is a man of high stature that is able to grab the audience’s attention. Oedipus proclaims, “I Oedipus whom all men call the Great.” (Sophocles 8) Oedipus is shown to be a man of great reputation, as he claims himself to be a hero among men. A plague has stricken the city of Thebes, and as its king, he has piled the task upon himself to rid the city of the outbreak. To rid the city of this infection, Oedipus must find the murderer of the previous king, Laius. When speaking to the people of Thebes while searching for the slayer of Laius, Oedipus declares, “Upon the murderer I invoke this curse – whether he is one man and all unknown, or one of many – may he wear out his life in misery to miserable doom!” (Sophocles 245) Here it becomes evident of Oedipus’ hamartia, or tragic flaw. Oedipus’ hamartia is his short temper, as he is quick to shout consequences aimed at the killer without knowing many facts. His short temper also leads him to the error that sets his fate in motion. Hamartia is a key element in having a tragic hero.

On his continued search for the murderer, the blind prophet Teiresias is brought to

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