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Victim of a tragic mistake

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Oedipus the King is a tragedy because Oedipus is a victim of a tragic flaw that isn’t through his own doing. Oedipus does not know that he is actually Laius’s and Jocasta’s son. Because of this lack of information, Oedipus was unable to make sound decisions. Oedipus is doomed to fail, and his response to his failings causes pity in the audience. Upon knowing the truth Oedipus punishes himself by blinding himself and cuts himself off from the world. He lives the rest of his life in torment as payment for his mistakes.

To me Dr. Faustus seems more like a morality play than a tragedy. At the end of the play Faustus ends up damned. In effect he has learned nothing because he knows the consequences of his actions and everything goes as he planned. Had he repented, he would not have received the severe punishment of eternal suffering in hell. Faustus had been tricked by Lucifer as well as Mephistopheles into believing that he would lead a happy life. Even when he was being torn apart by the devils at the end of the stipulated 24 years, he would not repent, even though he wanted to. He believed he had went too far into evilness that God would not forgive him. Faustus failed to remember that God is merciful, and would have accepted him despite all his transgressions. Faustus could have been saved from eternal damnation, but being a tragic character, he acknowledges that he had been wrong and hence had to face the consequences of his actions.

Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is definitely a tragedy because the protagonist dies in the end. However, he still accomplishes his goal, so he doesn’t fail. Still, he dies with out knowing that he has successfully exacted his revenge; so, we’re back to tragedy. Much of the tragedy arises from Hamlet’s desire to avenge his father’s murder. Some of the tragedy comes from Laertes’ desire to avenge the death of his sister, which he blames on Hamlet and the death of his father Polonius which is Hamlet’s doing. But some of the tragedy comes from King Claudius’ murderous schemes which are driven by greed and self-aggrandizement in the beginning and survival as the play progresses. In the end just about everyone dies leading to a tragic ending.

Oedipus the King would give a modern audience the experience of catharsis because the main character is someone we can relate to and want to see succeed, but he is tragically doomed to fail.   

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