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Word Count: 2,290
Aristotle outlined the characteristics of a good tragic hero He must be better than we are a man who is superior to the average man in some way In Oedipuss case he is superior not only because of social standing but also because he is smart he is the only person who could solve the Sphinxs riddle At the same time a tragic hero must evoke both pity and fear and Aristotle claims that the best way to do this is if he is imperfect A character with a mixture of good and evil is more compelling than a character that is merely good And Oedipus is definitely not perfect although a clever man he is blind to the truth and refuses to believe Teiresiass warnings Although he is a good father he unwittingly fathered children in incest A tragic hero suffers because of his hamartia a Greek word that is often translated as tragic flaw but really means error in judgement Often this flaw or error has to do with fate a character tempts fate thinks he can change fate or doesnt realize what fate has in store for him Oedipus discounts the power of oracles but he values the power of truth Instead of relying on the gods Oedipus counts on his own ability to root out the truth after all he is a riddle-solver The contrast between trust in the gods oracles and trust in intelligence plays out in this story but the irony is of course that the oracles and Oedipuss scientific method both lead to the same outcome Oedipuss search for truth reveals just that and the truth revealed fulfils the oracles prophesies Ironically it is Oedipuss rejection of the oracles that uncovers their power he relentlessly pursues truth instead of trusting in the gods and his detective work finally reveals the fruition of the oracles words As Jocasta says if he could just have left well enough alone he
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