The Aristotelian term “tragic hero” is most commonly defined in Aristotle’s piece The Poetics as being an individual that is of noble blood and neither worse nor better morally than most people. Further more, Aristotelian views state that tragic heroes are accompanied by tragic flaws that eventually induce that character’s demise. Chekhov’s piece, The Cherry Orchard and Sophocles’ play “Oedipus the King,” are prime examples within the literary world in which the reader is given a nearly revolutionized depiction of the Aristotelian “tragic hero,” changing the manner in which the reader views this dated Aristotelian concept.
Essentially, each of these pieces redefines what it really means to be a tragic hero. These differing attributes of the “tragic heroes” in each of the pieces are revealed through each character’s reactions to certain life changing occurrences, dialogue, goals, and the actions they fail to carry out. Although many would agree that Oedipus is the perfect representation of a traditional Aristotelian “tragic hero,” his behavior, and reactions to certain events and characters such as Jacosta and Creon do not coincide with this belief.
Essentially, it seems as though the pressures of the public on Oedipus due to his status in society served as the major driving force which induced his desire to find Kin Laius’s killer. On the contrary, it was said in Aristotle’s piece The Poetics, that the tragic hero would have been driven by the individual’s yearning for a resolution to bring forth happiness, peace, and/or justice. Oedipus had not been driven by these ideas; instead, he was motivated by the notion of maintaining his reputation as a King who always rescued the people of his land, not by the sole notion that such actions could save his people.
For instance, when his reputation was jeopardized by Teiresias, the town’s prophet in a conversation between the two during which Teiresias claims that Oedipus is in fact King Laius’s killer. When such information is declared out-loud and in front of the chorus, Oedipus becomes outraged, and unable to sustain composure. “Do you think you can say such things with impunity? ” Oedipus screams. After short and seemingly calm responses from the prophet, Oedipus rants on about the improbability of such a statement, and ends with a statement in which he calls Teiresias a “shameless and brainless, sightless, senseless sot.
(Sophocles)” Throughout the progression of the conversation, Oedipus became more and more enraged with Teiresias’s first statement which declared him [Oedipus] the killer if the land’s former king. Although some defensive behavior could be sensibly expected after the declaration of such a notion, however, Oedipus ventures far beyond any feasibly common response to such a statement. Furthermore, when Creon suggests the same idea, he threatens to banish him.