When People Are Faced With a Catastrophe

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A catastrophe is an important and disastrous event of great significance. It is a terrible disaster that initiates resolution of a plot in the tragedy. In drama particularly the tragedies of the classical age, the catastrophe is the action at the end of a tragedy that initiates the falling action of play. The catastrophe is either simple or complex. In a non-complex disaster, there is no change in the state of the main characters, nor any discovery or unraveling; the plot being only a mere passage out of agitation, to quiet and repose.

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When it comes to a complex catastrophe, the main character goes through a transition of fortune which might or might not use a discovery. The qualifications of this change are that it be probable and necessary. For the former, it has to be the natural result or effect of the previous activities, in the sense that it has to originate from the theme or arise from the events instead of being introduced merely to serve a turn.

There are various collectivities that stem from a catastrophe. In this thesis, I will base my approach on the play Oedipus, the king. The book, Oedipus, the King is a complex tragedy or catastrophe. The characters in the story are of the proper base of tragedy. Oedipus, the main character is a hero with good intentions. His downfall, therefore, becomes painful and hard to believe. The hero is made tragic through his act of ignorance or rather missing the mark. Though he acts in ignorance, it is him who killed his father and slept with his mother. He also blinds himself and asks Cleopas to banish him. All these actions are based on good intentions, and that is what makes his fall tragic.

Unexpected alliances are formed in the face of a catastrophe. People come together and gang against another person or plot to destroy the threat. Example king Cause and Jacosta meet and plot to kill their son who was prophesied to kill king Cause and sleep with the wife. They, therefore, kill the child to avoid the prophecy coming to reality. Also, when the citizens realize that it was Oedipus who killed king Lause, they agree Oedipus be banished for the curse of plague to leave the town. Although they do not want him to be dismissed, it is the only way to end the curse. Oedipus, therefore, requests Cleopas to banish him.

Another unexpected alliance is torturing other people to get what you need in a time of a catastrophe. Oedipus subjects many unwilling citizens to a series of questioning in his quest to know what happened to King Lane's murder. Also, when Oedipus tells Jacosta about the death of King Laura, Jacosta lies to Oedipus that they had killed the son who was foretold to sleep with her and kill her husband. In this situation, Jacosta and the man did not kill the actual son Oedipus but lived to believe they did.

Also, people withhold the information they have to keep themselves and the society safe. Teiresias goes on to withhold his knowledge, bearing in mind that revealing it will unleash the wrath of the gods on Oedipus. However, when Oedipus accuses Teiresias of planning the murder, Teiresias decides to tell the truth: that Oedipus himself is the murderer. Furthermore, in an oblique reference to Oedipus's marriage to his mother, Teiresias says, "I say thou livest with thy nearest kin shamelessly. Here he tries to explain that Oedipus and Jacosta committed adultery and are living together as man and wife.

Blame game. People tend to blame other people when faced with tragedy." Oedipus reacts by accusing Creon of bribing Teiresias to undo him and Teiresias of willingly accepting the bribe solely for profit. Jacosta also blames the prophet for false prophesy and even sites to Oedipus that the prophesy could be false since prophets are not always right.

Reversal of intention. This is where one intends to do well but since it is in the face of a tragedy they end up being an enhancement of the tragedy itself. In Oedipus this takes place the moment the Messenger arrives from Corinth. The man attempts to calm the King's mind by letting him know that he is not Polybos's son. Though the Messenger intends only good things with this information, it ends up being the thing that drives Oedipus toward his horrible fate.

Recognition. This is where the tragic hero discovers the terrible truth of the situation. In Oedipus the King, it happens when the combined testimonies of the Corinthian Messenger and the Theban Shepherd make Oedipus realize that he's unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy he's struggled to avoid. What the Messenger says is the reason Oedipus summons the Shepherd.

Catastrophe. Intention reversal and recognition directly lead to the disaster. When the truth is revealed, Jocasta and Oedipus both realize that they have committed incest and that Oedipus has murdered his father, Laius. Jocasta then hangs herself; Oedipus stabs himself in the eyes, and begs to be banished. All these things add up to make Oedipus the King the gold standard of tragedy.


When people are faced with a catastrophe they form unexpected collectivities. These alliances are basically to protect the individuals from harm. In most cases however most alliances lead to more damage and harm example when Oedipus forced the people to tell him who killed the king and he later finds out he was the one who killed the king as is banished. Also, when Jacosta tries to convince Oedipus to stop looking for the murderer. Oedipus insists and he finds out he is the killer. He becomes the cause of Jacostas death. It can be said that Oedipus brought the tragedy on himself.

The author shows how the hero of the play falls due to his innocence, ignorance, and stubbornness. Hoewever he allows us to understand that all this was with good intentions of saving the citizens.

A good way to react to a tragedy or catastrophe is avoiding rushed judgements.one is expected to remain calm in order to make sound decisions. Rushing may lead to more tragic decisions in trying to solve the situation. When Oedipus is told about his father, it takes him rigorous investigations, and he finally realizes the horrible truth. In this situation Oedipus does not act on the spur of the moment but first investigates the whole situation.

Another good way is avoiding blame game and sticking together. Oedipus reacts by accusing Creon of bribing Teiresias to undo him and Teiresias of willingly accepting the bribe solely for profit. He later realizes that it was to protect him from people finding out he was the one who killed the king so that he would not be banished.


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Sophocles., and Robert Bagg. Oedipus The King. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1982. Print.

The Face Of Catastrophe". The American Journal of Sports Medicine 40.7 (2012): 1485-1487. Web.

Segel, Lee A. "Catasrophe Theory". Mathematical Biosciences 74.2 (1985): 279. Web.

Vietnam : A Tragedy: Is It A Tragedy Of Character Or A Tragedy Of Fate ?". China Report 2.1 (1966): 27-29. Web.

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