Oedipus the King is full of common literary elements that are important for students to explore. One of the more important elements is that of the tragic hero. This is a protagonist who is typically of noble birth and seems to be ill-fated and destined for doom. In this play, it is clear that Oedipus fits this description, as he is lead to his tragic ending.
The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, first articulated the specific attributes or principles of a tragic hero. In fact, he said Oedipus the King was the perfect example of a tragedy. For the storyboard above, students can use a template to storyboard the qualities that make Oedipus, a tragic hero. The finished product outlines each of Aristotle's principles with a detailed explanation of the specific attributes.
|ATTRIBUTE||DESCRIPTION||Example from Oedipus Rex|
|Hamartia||Hero's Flaw that Causes Downfall||Oedipus’ ignorance of his parenthood, combined with his anger, pride, and determination leads him to discover the horror of his past actions.|
|Hubris||Excessive Pride||He believed that could defy prophecy and Tiresias’s warnings.|
|Peripeteia||Reversal of Fortune||When the messenger arrives from Corinth, he tries to relieve Oedipus by telling he was adopted. This is the point where Oedipus begins to unravel the tale of his life.|
|Anagnorisis||Moment of Critical Discovery||As the play draws to a close, Oedipus realizes the terrible truth. Despite all his efforts - because of them, in fact - he has killed his father and married his mother. The prophecy he and his father had tried to avoid has come true.|
|Nemesis||Fate that Cannot be Avoided||Oedipus’s fate is prophesied as a newborn, he tries to escape it, but by his actions works against his own interests.|
|Catharsis||Audience's Feeling of Pity or Fear After the Hero's Fall||The audience see Oedipus, a flawed but still great man, brought low by fate. They pity his tragic circumstances and feel fear that their own hubris or anger could lead to catastrophe.|
Grade Level 9-12
Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)
Type of Assignment Individual
Type of Activity: Tragic HeroCommon Core Standards
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Create a storyboard that shows how Oedipus can be considered a tragic hero.
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
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