Tragic Figure


Tragic Figure Essay Essay, Research Paper

According to Aristotle, a tragic figure is a human yet

better; having a misapprehension in circumspection which

causes a decline from a pinnacle; and claiming victory by

realizing their mistakes. The main characters in Medea and

Hippolytus, both Greek tragedies written by Euripides;

Oedipus, a Greek tragedy written by Sophocles; and Desire

Under the Elms, a twentieth century tragedy written by

Eugene O Neil are all great examples of tragic figures.

Each character, Medea, Hippolytus, Oedipus, and Abbie

exemplifies the definition of a tragic figure in his or her

own way. However, all four characters possesses a

strength which makes them better than the average person;

each character has a personal flaw or misstep that leads to

their downfall; and Oedipus and Abbie claim final victory

where as Medea and Hippolytus do not.

The Strength of Medea, Hippolytus, Oedipus, and

Abbie are exhibited in numerous ways. One of the

strengths that all of the characters share is determination.

The characters share this quality because, Medea was

determined to get revenge on Jason; Hippolytus was

determined to let his father know the truth; Oedipus was

determined to find the killer of Lauis; and Abbie was

determined to own the farm. Medea s and Abbie s

determination for selfish reasons. Medea proclaims, If I

can find the means or devise any scheme to pay my

husband for what he has done to me… This quote shows

how resolved Medea is to repay Jason. Abbie s

ascertainment is used to mostly to get material entities,

Abbie states how she only married Cabot for a home in the

following, Waal-what if I did need a hum? What else d I

marry a old man like him fur? This reference shows how

determined she was to marry just for material things. Now,

in the case of Hippolytus and Oedipus, their determination

was for the good of the family or country. In the tragedy

Hippolytus, Hippolytus pronounces to his father, Nor am

I, father, one that mocks his fellows, but loyal in their

absence as their sight; and above all, untouched by that one

sin of which you would convict me. To this day my flesh

is virgin. Hippolytus is telling his father, Theseus, the

truth and does so throughout the play. Similarly Oedipus

determination is for the good of the country. Oedipus

country is under a plague and he enumerates, I fight in his

defense as for my father, and I shall try all means to take

the murderer of Lauis the son of Labdacus the son of

Polydorus and before him of Cadmus and before him of

Agenor. Those who do not obey me, may the gods grant

no crops springing from the ground they plow nor children

to their women! Here, Oedipus is showing his persistence

to finding the murderer Lauis. These strengths may seem

worthy of recognition, but it is these strengths that lead to

their downfall.

The act of leaving their native home takes a toll on

Medea and Oedipus. But for Abbie it was her love for

Eben; and Hippolytus pride caused him to fall hard. After

leaving her home, Colchis, to marry Jason, she regrets her

actions. Medea declares, Oh, my father! Oh, my country!

In what dishonor I left you, killing my own brother for it,

In saying this Medea shows her agony for leaving Colchis

and marring the cowardly Jason. In Comparison

Oedipus left his home in order to avoid his fate. Oedipus

fled his town because of this, I was fated to lie with my

mother, and show to daylight an accursed breed which men

would not endure, and I was doomed to be murderer of the

father who begot me. When I heard this I fled, and in the

days that followed I would measure from the stars the

whereabouts of Corinth-yes, I fled to somewhere where I

should not see fulfilled the infamies told in dreadful

oracle. On the other hand Abbie s misstep was falling in

love with Eben. This is her blunder because Eben is her

stepson and she tells him, Don t git feelin low. I love ye,

Eben. Kiss me. Now, as for Hippolytus, his

superciliousness causes him to repudiate Phaedra, thus,

causing her to kill herself. Hippolytus divulges, Curse

you! No never can I utter all my loathing of women!

Hippolytus is letting his pride come out and is speaking out

of disgust in this quote. These missteps may have seemed

like a good idea at the time but they all lead the characters

into calamity.

All of the characters eventually decline from their

social status. Hippolytus, Oedipus, and Medea were all

exiled from their countries, Abbie s downfall can be

compared with the other, but instead of ostracism from her

country; she is sent jail. Hippolytus is exiled because

Theseus, his father, believes he slept with his wife,

Phaedra. Theseus declares to Hippolytus, Yet not you

shall die!-Not by the penalty thus self-invoked (For speedy

death is kindest for the wretched); But as a beggared

outcast from your home. Oedipus is banished from his

land for the murder of Lauis and to relieve the country of

the plague. Oedipus cries, Drive me from here with all

the speed you can to where I may not hear a human voice.

Oedipus lamenting is due to the fact he is the cause of the

plague and the murderer of Lauis, whom he promised to rid

the city of. of course, Creon, being daunted for the lives of

himself and his daughter, he exiles Medea. Creon

expounds, Medea, I order you along with your two

children, and not to waste time doing it. As for Abbie, she

is not exiled but she is sentenced to jail for the murder of

her son.

When a tragic figure recognizes his or her wrong

doings they assert personal triumph. Not all tragic figures

claim this victory, Medea and Hippolytus are perfect

examples. Hippolytus never realized that it was his anger

that sent Phaedra over the edge. As for Medea, she

murders a great number of people including her

immaculate sons. Medea ruminated about desecrating

Jason so much, she really didn t have a conscious. On the

opposition, Oedipus and Abbie are true tragic figures.

They both realize what they have done wrong and is

willing to face the consequences. Abbie realizes she has

committed the worst crime and sin; she asks for

forgiveness and accepts her punishment. I ve got t take

my punishment-t pay fur my sin… she proclaims before

getting in the sheriff s car. Oedipus, like Abbie, also

realizes his crime and utters, But the hand that struck me

was none but my own. Oedipus says this because he

notices that it was his own doings that brought him this

pain and disharmony.

All of the tragic figures ventilated had similarities and

yet diverged in countless ways. Each character possesses a

strength, but the strength is used in different ways; each has

a flaw, and each flaw and fall deviates; and two out of the

four recognize their wrong, which lets them claim victory

that is not same. Tragic figures can be very complex yet

simplistic once studied. In today s society the actions of

Medea, Hippolytus, Oedipus, and Abbie would be justified

by a psychiatrist as a lack of attention or love.

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