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Page 1: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

Literary devices in Literary devices in OedipusOedipus

Page 2: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

Character FlawCharacter Flaw

In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw."

This, combined chance and other external forces, This, combined chance and other external forces, brings about a catastrophebrings about a catastrophe

Often the error or flaw results from nothing more Often the error or flaw results from nothing more than personal traits like than personal traits like

pride and overconfidence, but can arise from any pride and overconfidence, but can arise from any failure of the protagonist's action or knowledge failure of the protagonist's action or knowledge ranging from a simple unwitting ness to a moral ranging from a simple unwitting ness to a moral deficiency. deficiency.

Page 3: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

FlashbackFlashback

Jocasta flashes back to tell the story of Jocasta flashes back to tell the story of LaiusLaius

Page 4: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

SymbolsSymbols

Triple CrossroadTriple Crossroad killed King Laius at a place “where three roads killed King Laius at a place “where three roads meet,” or a triple crossroad. Typically, crossroads symbolize a meet,” or a triple crossroad. Typically, crossroads symbolize a choice to be made. Yet because the murder of Laius occurred in choice to be made. Yet because the murder of Laius occurred in the distant past. Oedipus’s choice has already been made, and so the distant past. Oedipus’s choice has already been made, and so the triple crossroads becomes a symbol not of choice but of fate. the triple crossroads becomes a symbol not of choice but of fate.

Swollen anklesSwollen ankles As an adult, still limps from a childhood injury to his ankles. This As an adult, still limps from a childhood injury to his ankles. This

limp, and his very name—which means “swollen ankle,” and limp, and his very name—which means “swollen ankle,” and which was given to him because of a childhood ankle injury—are which was given to him because of a childhood ankle injury—are clues to his own identity that Oedipus fails to notice. As such, clues to his own identity that Oedipus fails to notice. As such, Oedipus’s ankles become symbols of his fate. His ankles, literally, Oedipus’s ankles become symbols of his fate. His ankles, literally, are the marks of that fate.are the marks of that fate.

Page 5: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

MotifsMotifs

Sight and blindnessSight and blindness

Page 6: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

The Three UnitiesThe Three Unities unity of timeunity of time—all the action in the play takes place —all the action in the play takes place

during a single day. [Note: When characters recall during a single day. [Note: When characters recall events and actions that took place at an earlier time, events and actions that took place at an earlier time, unity of time still applies because the present moment is unity of time still applies because the present moment is still a single day—recalling or remembering is not the still a single day—recalling or remembering is not the same as the actual action or event taking place.]same as the actual action or event taking place.]

unity of spaceunity of space—the play must take place in a single —the play must take place in a single location—in front of the palace at Thebes. [Note: Again, location—in front of the palace at Thebes. [Note: Again, actions that are recalled that took place in other actions that are recalled that took place in other locations, e.g., the place where three roads meet, are locations, e.g., the place where three roads meet, are still being recalled in front of the palace at Thebes.still being recalled in front of the palace at Thebes.

unity of actionunity of action—everything that takes place, occurs, or —everything that takes place, occurs, or is described, relates to a central overarching idea. No is described, relates to a central overarching idea. No subplots; no unrelated patterns of diction, imagery, etc. subplots; no unrelated patterns of diction, imagery, etc.

Page 7: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

Aristotle TragedyAristotle Tragedy

Aristotle cites Aristotle cites OedipusOedipus constantly in his constantly in his how-to manual for tragedy, how-to manual for tragedy, PoeticsPoetics. The . The play meets nearly all of the tragic criteria play meets nearly all of the tragic criteria that Aristotle lays out in this famous that Aristotle lays out in this famous book.book.

Page 8: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

Tragic HeroTragic Hero

Characteristics of a tragic heroCharacteristics of a tragic hero generally highborngenerally highborn must be goodmust be good must aim at propriety—have good intentionsmust aim at propriety—have good intentions must be true to life—humanmust be true to life—human must be consistentmust be consistent exhibits tragic flaw or flaws, oftenexhibits tragic flaw or flaws, often

hubris—excessive pridehubris—excessive pride âte—rashnessâte—rashness

experiences a reversal or fallexperiences a reversal or fall brings about his own downfall (his prideful and/or rash brings about his own downfall (his prideful and/or rash

actions lead to his downfall)actions lead to his downfall) evokes both pity and fear in audience/readerevokes both pity and fear in audience/reader

Page 9: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

Hamartia: tragic flawHamartia: tragic flaw

Scholars have been arguing for centuries over an Scholars have been arguing for centuries over an essential question: what is Oedipus's essential question: what is Oedipus's hamartiahamartia, , often called a tragic flaw? Aristotle tells us in his often called a tragic flaw? Aristotle tells us in his PoeticsPoetics that every tragic hero is supposed to have that every tragic hero is supposed to have one of these, and that the one of these, and that the hamartiahamartia is the thing is the thing that causes the hero's downfall.that causes the hero's downfall.

Aristotle also cites Oedipus as the best example Aristotle also cites Oedipus as the best example ever of a tragic hero. Why then is it so unclear to ever of a tragic hero. Why then is it so unclear to generation after generation, just what Oedipus's generation after generation, just what Oedipus's hamartiahamartia ???????? ????????

Page 10: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

HamartiaHamartia

The word The word hamartiahamartia comes from the Greek comes from the Greek hamartaneinhamartanein, which means "missing the mark." , which means "missing the mark." The hero aims his arrow at the bull's eye, but The hero aims his arrow at the bull's eye, but ends up hitting something altogether ends up hitting something altogether unexpected. Oedipus is the perfect example of unexpected. Oedipus is the perfect example of this. The target for Oedipus is finding Laius's this. The target for Oedipus is finding Laius's murderer in order to save Thebes. murderer in order to save Thebes.

He does achieve this, but unfortunately brings He does achieve this, but unfortunately brings disaster on himself in the process. Oedipus disaster on himself in the process. Oedipus aim's for the bull's eye but ends up hitting his aim's for the bull's eye but ends up hitting his own eyes instead.own eyes instead.

Page 11: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

Strophe and antistropheStrophe and antistrophe

Like most all ancient Greek tragedians, Sophocles Like most all ancient Greek tragedians, Sophocles divides his choral odes into strophe and antistrophe. divides his choral odes into strophe and antistrophe. Both sections had the same number of lines and Both sections had the same number of lines and metrical pattern. In Greek, metrical pattern. In Greek, strophestrophe means "turn," and means "turn," and antistropheantistrophe means "turn back." This makes sense when means "turn back." This makes sense when you consider the fact that, during the strophe choruses you consider the fact that, during the strophe choruses danced from right to left and during the antistrophe they danced from right to left and during the antistrophe they did the opposite. Sophocles may have split them into did the opposite. Sophocles may have split them into two groups, so that it was as if one part of the Chorus two groups, so that it was as if one part of the Chorus was conversing with the other. Perhaps the dualities was conversing with the other. Perhaps the dualities created by strophe and antistrophe, represent the created by strophe and antistrophe, represent the endless, irresolvable debates for which Greek tragedy is endless, irresolvable debates for which Greek tragedy is famous. famous.

Page 12: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

Oedipus ComplexOedipus Complex

The The OedipusOedipus plays have had a wide-reaching plays have had a wide-reaching influence and are particularly notable for influence and are particularly notable for inspiring inspiring Sigmund FreudSigmund Freud’s theory of the ’s theory of the "Oedipus Complex," which describes a stage of "Oedipus Complex," which describes a stage of psychological development in which a child psychological development in which a child sees their father as an adversarial competitor sees their father as an adversarial competitor for his or her mother’s attention (or in non-for his or her mother’s attention (or in non-psychology speak, it’s the kill-the-father-sleep-psychology speak, it’s the kill-the-father-sleep-with-the-mother complex).with-the-mother complex).

Page 13: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

TONETONE

Because this play doesn't have a Because this play doesn't have a narrator, the tone is profoundly shaped narrator, the tone is profoundly shaped by the commentary of the Chorus. The by the commentary of the Chorus. The Chorus expresses genuine sympathy for Chorus expresses genuine sympathy for the situations of the characters, yet at the the situations of the characters, yet at the same time is acutely aware of the same time is acutely aware of the upcoming events. upcoming events.

Page 14: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

The play also has great examples of The play also has great examples of some of Aristotle's favorite plot devices: some of Aristotle's favorite plot devices: peripeteiaperipeteia, , anagnorisisanagnorisis, and , and catastrophecatastrophe. . PeripeteiaPeripeteia means a reversal of intention means a reversal of intention or a turning point or a turning point

Page 15: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

AnagnorisisAnagnorisis means a recognition. It's means a recognition. It's where the tragic hero suddenly realizes where the tragic hero suddenly realizes the terrible truth the terrible truth

Page 16: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

peripeteiaperipeteia, , anagnorisisanagnorisis, and , and catastrophecatastrophe

PeripeteiaPeripeteia means a reversal of intention or a turning point. In means a reversal of intention or a turning point. In OedipusOedipus this this happens when the Messenger shows up from Corinth. The man tries to ease happens when the Messenger shows up from Corinth. The man tries to ease the King's mind by telling him that he's not really Polybos's son. Though the the King's mind by telling him that he's not really Polybos's son. Though the Messenger intends only good things with this information, it ends up being the Messenger intends only good things with this information, it ends up being the thing that drives Oedipus toward his horrible fate. The wicked irony of this thing that drives Oedipus toward his horrible fate. The wicked irony of this turning point makes it a pitch-perfect turning point makes it a pitch-perfect peripeteiaperipeteia..

AnagnorisisAnagnorisis means a recognition. It's where the tragic hero suddenly realizes means a recognition. It's where the tragic hero suddenly realizes the terrible truth. In the terrible truth. In Oedipus the KingOedipus the King it happens when the combined it happens when the combined testimonies of the Corinthian Messenger and the Theban Shepherd make testimonies of the Corinthian Messenger and the Theban Shepherd make Oedipus realize that he's unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy he's struggled to Oedipus realize that he's unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy he's struggled to avoid. One of the things that makes Aristotle think the play is so great is that the avoid. One of the things that makes Aristotle think the play is so great is that the anagnorisisanagnorisis is directly caused by the is directly caused by the peripeteia.peripeteia. The words of the Messenger The words of the Messenger are what cause Oedipus to summon the Shepherd. The two plot devices are are what cause Oedipus to summon the Shepherd. The two plot devices are linked by a terrible but inevitable logic.linked by a terrible but inevitable logic.

Just as the Just as the peripeteiaperipeteia directly leads to the directly leads to the anagnorisisanagnorisis, the , the anagnorisisanagnorisis directly directly leads to the leads to the catastrophecatastrophe, or the terrible suffering. When the truth is revealed, , or the terrible suffering. When the truth is revealed, Jocasta hangs herself, Oedipus stabs himself in the eyes, and begs to be Jocasta hangs herself, Oedipus stabs himself in the eyes, and begs to be banished. All these things add up to make banished. All these things add up to make Oedipus the KingOedipus the King the gold standard the gold standard of tragedy of tragedy

Page 17: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

Greek Theory of Tragedy: Aristotle's Greek Theory of Tragedy: Aristotle's PoeticsPoetics             The classic discussion of Greek tragedy is Aristotle's The classic discussion of Greek tragedy is Aristotle's PoeticsPoetics. He . He

defines tragedy as "the imitation of an action that is serious and also as defines tragedy as "the imitation of an action that is serious and also as having magnitude, complete in itself." He continues, "Tragedy is a form of having magnitude, complete in itself." He continues, "Tragedy is a form of drama exciting the emotions of pity and fear. Its action should be single and drama exciting the emotions of pity and fear. Its action should be single and complete, presenting a reversal of fortune, involving persons renowned and complete, presenting a reversal of fortune, involving persons renowned and of superior attainments, and it should be written in poetry embellished with of superior attainments, and it should be written in poetry embellished with every kind of artistic expression." The writer presents "incidents arousing every kind of artistic expression." The writer presents "incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to interpret its catharsis of such of such emotions" pity and fear, wherewith to interpret its catharsis of such of such emotions" (by (by catharsiscatharsis, Aristotle means a purging or sweeping away of the pity and , Aristotle means a purging or sweeping away of the pity and fear aroused by the tragic action).       The basic difference Aristotle draws fear aroused by the tragic action).       The basic difference Aristotle draws between tragedy and other between tragedy and other genresgenres, such as comedy and the epic, is the , such as comedy and the epic, is the "tragic pleasure of pity and fear" the audience feel watching a tragedy. In "tragic pleasure of pity and fear" the audience feel watching a tragedy. In order for the tragic hero to arouse these feelings in the audience, he cannot order for the tragic hero to arouse these feelings in the audience, he cannot be either all good or all evil but must be someone the audience can identify be either all good or all evil but must be someone the audience can identify with; however, if he is superior in some way(s), the tragic pleasure is with; however, if he is superior in some way(s), the tragic pleasure is intensified. His disastrous end results from a mistaken action, which in turn intensified. His disastrous end results from a mistaken action, which in turn arises from a tragic flaw or from a tragic error in judgment. Often the tragic arises from a tragic flaw or from a tragic error in judgment. Often the tragic flaw is flaw is hubrishubris, an excessive pride that causes the hero to ignore a divine , an excessive pride that causes the hero to ignore a divine warning or to break a moral law. It has been suggested that because the warning or to break a moral law. It has been suggested that because the tragic hero's suffering is greater than his offense, the audience feels pity; tragic hero's suffering is greater than his offense, the audience feels pity; because the audience members perceive that they could behave similarly, because the audience members perceive that they could behave similarly, they feel pity.they feel pity.

Page 18: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

Topic: Can we see and still be blind?Topic: Can we see and still be blind?

Page 19: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

LITERARY DEVICESLITERARY DEVICES

A A simile:simile: a comparison of two dissimilar things using "like" or "as", e.g., a comparison of two dissimilar things using "like" or "as", e.g., "my love is like a red, red rose" (Robert Burns). "my love is like a red, red rose" (Robert Burns).

A A metaphor:metaphor: a comparison of two dissimilar things which does not use a comparison of two dissimilar things which does not use "like" or "as," e.g., "my love is a red, red rose" (Lilia Melani). "like" or "as," e.g., "my love is a red, red rose" (Lilia Melani).

Personification:Personification: treating abstractions or inanimate objects as human, treating abstractions or inanimate objects as human, that is, giving them human attributes, powers, or feelings, e.g., "nature that is, giving them human attributes, powers, or feelings, e.g., "nature wept" or "the wind whispered many truths to me." wept" or "the wind whispered many truths to me."

hyperbole:hyperbole: exaggeration, often extravagant; it may be used for serious or exaggeration, often extravagant; it may be used for serious or for comic effect. for comic effect.

Apostrophe:Apostrophe: a direct address to a person, thing, or abstraction, such as a direct address to a person, thing, or abstraction, such as "O Western Wind," or "Ah, Sorrow, you consume us." Apostrophes are "O Western Wind," or "Ah, Sorrow, you consume us." Apostrophes are generally capitalized. generally capitalized.

Onomatopoeia:Onomatopoeia: a word whose sounds seem to duplicate the sounds they a word whose sounds seem to duplicate the sounds they describe--hiss, buzz, bang, murmur, meow, growl. describe--hiss, buzz, bang, murmur, meow, growl.

Oxymoron:Oxymoron: a statement with two parts which seem contradictory; a statement with two parts which seem contradictory; examples: sad joy, a wise fool, the sound of silence, or Hamlet's saying, "I examples: sad joy, a wise fool, the sound of silence, or Hamlet's saying, "I must be cruel only to be kind" must be cruel only to be kind"

Page 20: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

Deus ex machina Deus ex machina

deus ex machinadeus ex machina literally "god from the machine") is a literally "god from the machine") is a plot deviceplot device in which a person or thing in which a person or thing appears "out of the blue" to help a character to overcome a seemingly insolvable difficulty. It is appears "out of the blue" to help a character to overcome a seemingly insolvable difficulty. It is

generally considered to be poor storytelling technique.generally considered to be poor storytelling technique.

Page 21: Literary devices in Oedipus. Character Flaw In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character. The "fatal flaw." This,

Dramatic IronyDramatic Irony

Sophocles makes great use of dramatic Sophocles makes great use of dramatic irony in Oedipus Rex. We, as the irony in Oedipus Rex. We, as the audience, know quite a bit about Oedipus audience, know quite a bit about Oedipus that he does not know. that he does not know.