Aristotle (famous Greek philosopher and scientist) defined Oedipus the King as the perfect tragedy in his treatise entitled Poetics (composed at least 50 years after the death of Sophocles (the author of Oedipus the King).
Tragedy: a probable cause and effect inevitable sequence of events connected intimately with the personality of the tragic character
Character in tragedy (i.e. “tragic hero”)
*hero must be good—morally sound
*true to life (realistic)—as humans this would incorporate the component of the “tragic flaw” or “hamartia” (Greek for ”missing the mark”)—All humans are flawed and, for the extraordinary greatness of the heroic personality, this flaw is mostly seen as hubris (arrogance) or a related error in judgment (hamartia). The “hamartia” is the one way that the greatest of heroes “misses the mark” or ideal of perfection. This hamartia also serves as a major contributor to the fall or reversal of fortune ( peripeteia) of the hero from good to bad circumstance.
*consistent (true to themselves)—Once a character’s motivations and personality in the play is established, they should remain consistent throughout the events of the play.
* “true to life and yet more beautiful”—the hero becomes ennobled or rises above ordinary mortals through his experiences, his sufferings, and his related actions
Aristotle’s Ideal Plot Structure: Freytag’s triangle Incentive Moment: events that start the cause and effect chain leading to tragedy
Complication: aka rising action—the events leading from the incentive moment to the climax
Peripeteia: the reversal of the situation of the main character from good to bad—a change in the fortune of the hero that is contrary to the audience’s expectations and therefore surprising—occurs when a character produces an effect opposite to that which he intended
Climax: the moment of greatest discovery that is caused by the rising action (complication) and leads to the falling action
Anagnorisis: the recognition of the hero of some truth about his/her identity—this recognition accompanies the peripeteia (reversal of situation)—change from ignorance to knowledge
Denouement: “the unraveling” of events that occurs from the climax to the resolution—also called the falling action
Catastrophe: beginning of the events of suffering produced in a tragedy
Resolution: resolving of the problem created by the incentive moment