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Irony in Sophocles' Antigone

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Frank Jevons in “In Sophoclean Tragedy, Humans Create Their Own Fate” comments on Sophocles’ irony:

In this connection we may consider the “irony of Sophocles.” In argument irony has many forms That which best illustrates the irony of Sophocles is the method by which the ironical man, putting apparently innocent questions or suggestions, leads some person from one preposterous statement to another, until, perhaps, the subject of the irony realizes his situation and discovers that when he thought he was most brilliant of impressive, then he was really most absurd. . . .(62).

Let us explore the irony, in Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone, and see if we don’t conclude that, as it applies to King Creon it brings quite the same result as in Jevons’ stated situation.

In Sophocles: The Theban Plays E. F. Watling comments on Sophocles’ usage of dramatic irony in his dramas: “. . . that powerful and subtle weapon of ‘dramatic irony’ which Sophocles used with especial skill, whereby the audience can judge every speech and action of the play in the light of their previous knowledge of the situation” (12). M. H. Abrams defines dramatic irony as a situation wherein:

“the audience or reader shares with the author knowledge of present or future circumstances of which a character is ignorant; in that situation, the character unknowingly acts in a way we recognize to be grossly inappropriate to the actual circumstances, or expects the opposite of what we know that fate holds in store, or says something that anticipates the actual outcome, but not at all in the way that the character intends”(137).

This type of irony is commented on by Thomas Woodard in the Introduction to Sophocles: A Collection of Crit...

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...dings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997.

Segal, Charles Paul. “Sophocles’ Praise of Man and the Conflicts of the Antigone.” In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Sophocles. Antigone. Translated by R. C. Jebb. The Internet Classic Archive. no pag.

http://classics.mit.edu/Sophocles/antigone.html

“Sophocles” In Literature of the Western World, edited by Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. NewYork: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1984.

Woodard, Thomas. Introduction. In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Watling, E. F.. Introduction. In Sophocles: The Theban Plays, translated by E. F. Watling. New York: Penguin Books, 1974.
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