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Peripeteia includes changes of character , but also more external changes.

Oedipus the King: A Tragic Hero Essay example

A character who becomes rich and famous from poverty and obscurity has undergone peripeteia, even if his character remains the same. When a character learns something he had been previously ignorant of, this is normally distinguished from peripeteia as anagnorisis or discovery, a distinction derived from Aristotle's work.

Aristotle considered anagnorisis, leading to peripeteia, the mark of a superior tragedy. Two such plays are Oedipus Rex , where the oracle's information that Oedipus had killed his father and married his mother brought about his mother's death and his own blindness and exile, and Iphigenia in Tauris , where Iphigenia realizes that the strangers she is to sacrifice are her brother and his friend, resulting in all three of them escaping Tauris. These plots he considered complex and superior to simple plots without anagnorisis or peripeteia, such as when Medea resolves to kill her children, knowing they are her children, and does so.

Aristotle identified Oedipus Rex as the principal work demonstrating peripety. See Aristotle's Poetics. In Sophocles' Oedipus Rex , the peripeteia occurs towards the end of the play when the Messenger brings Oedipus news of his parentage. In the play, Oedipus is fated to murder his father and marry his mother. His parents, Laius and Jocasta, try to forestall the oracle by sending their son away to be killed, but he is actually raised by Polybus and his wife, Merope, the rulers of another kingdom.

The plot comes together when Oedipus realizes that he is the son and murderer of Laius as well as the son and husband of Jocasta. Martin M. He is changing from the mighty and somewhat arrogant king of Thebes to a figure of woe" Winkler The instantaneous conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus is a classic example of peripeteia , which Eusebius presented in his Life of Constantine as a pattern for the equally revelatory conversion of Constantine.

Modern biographers of Constantine see his conversion less as a momentary phenomenon than as a step in a lifelong process. In " The Three Apples ", a medieval Arabian Nights , after the murderer reveals himself near the middle of the story, he explains his reasons behind the murder in a flashback , which begins with him going on a journey to find three rare apples for his wife, but after returning finds out she cannot eat them due to her lingering illness.

Later at work, he sees a slave passing by with one of those apples claiming that he received it from his girlfriend, a married woman with three such apples her husband gave her. He returns home and demands his wife to show him all three apples, but she only shows him two.

This convinces him of her infidelity and he murders her as a result.

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After he disposes of her body, he returns home where his son confesses that he had stolen one of the apples and that a slave, to whom he had told about his father's journey, had fled with it. The murderer thus realizes his guilt and regrets what he has just done. The second use of peripety occurs near the end. After finding out about the culprit behind the murder, the protagonist Ja'far ibn Yahya is ordered by Harun al-Rashid to find the tricky slave within three days, or else he will have Ja'far executed instead.

After the deadline has passed, Ja'far prepares to be executed for his failure and bids his family farewell. The fifth century BCE is the golden age of Greek dramas. During that period, Sophocles wrote an outstanding tragedy named Oedipus Rex.

Over the centuries, Oedipus Rex has been regarded as the Greek tragedy par excellence. In the Poetics, Aristotle listed many requirements of a successful tragedy. He requires the plot of a tragedy to be single and complex, which means there should be only one plot that includes peripeteia and anagnorsis. Additionally, all plots should have pathos. It is obvious that all those requirements are satisfied in Oedipus Rex.

The Perfect Aristotelian Tragedy: Oedipus the King Essay | Bartleby

The news first sounds good, but reverses to be a disaster in a moment. Anagnorisis means recognition, emerges in the story when Oedipus knows that he kills Laius. Oedipus kills his father in ignorance but learns the true relationship from a Theban people. Pathos means suffering. When Oedipus finally understands the truth, he is so suffering from it that he blinds himself.


As the second important part of a successful tragedy, characters are required by Aristotle to be good, appropriate, true to life, and consistent. All characters in Oedipus Rex meet those requirements, and Jocasta is a perfect example. She is the queen of Thebe, and she commits suicide because she cannot bear the shame of the immoral truth. Except fulfilling requirements of all characters, Oedipus Rex also meets the specialty of a tragic hero. The most important character in a tragedy is the tragic hero. Aristotle requires that this character should have an elevated status but imperfect, which means the character should be higher than common people but falls below.

Oedipus, the king of Thebe, is absolutely high-ranking.

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  • However, he falls to the bottom when he recognizes that he kills his father and gets married to his mother. He might have left the murder of Laius uninvestigated, but piety and justice required him to act. Teiresias, Jocasta the Theban people, each in turn tries to stop him, but in vain; he must read the last riddle, the riddle of his own life. What causes his ruin is his own strength and courage, his loyalty to Thebes, and his loyalty to the truth.