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In his Poetics Aristotle outlined the ingredients necessary for a good tragedy and he based his formula on what he considered to be the perfect tragedy Sophocles Oedipus the King According to Aristotle a tragedy must be an imitation of life in the form of a serious story that is complete in itself in other words the story must be realistic and narrow in focus A good tragedy will evoke pity and fear in its viewers causing the viewers to experience a feeling of catharsis Catharsis in Greek means purgation or purification running through the gamut of these strong emotions will leave viewers feeling elated in the same way we often claim that a good cry will make one feel betterAristotle also 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 Tiresias 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 changefate or doesnt realize what fate has in store for him In Oedipus the King fate is an idea that surfaces again and
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