The Tragedy Of Sophocles ' Antigone By Sophokles Essay

The Tragedy Of Sophocles ' Antigone By Sophokles Essay

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Before Aristotle’s tragic hero model, tragic figures were open to interpretation. The play Antigone by Sophokles, written in 441 BC, existed during this period of ambiguity of what a tragic figure exactly meant. Antigone involves two principal characters that could potentially be the tragic figure, Kreon and Antigone. Kreon is the arrogant king who declares it illegal to give Polyneices, a soldier who had betrayed Thebes during war, a proper burial. Antigone is the sister of Polyneices who is determined to give him the proper burial that she, as his family, is obliged to carry out. Although misfortune falls upon both Antigone and Kreon, Kreon is the true tragic figure of Sophokles’ Antigone because he experiences a profound enlightenment and faces misfortunes that are out of his own control, whereas Antigone’s principles remain the same throughout the play and all her misfortunes are essentially self-inflicted.
One of the reasons Kreon is the tragic figure of the play is that he experiences a profound enlightenment and change. In the beginning, he was very hubristic and closed-minded, calling the Chorus “doddering wrecks [who] go out of their heads entirely” for suggesting that it must have been the gods’ work to have someone go bury Polyneices (Antigone 237-238). He had shamed Polyneices for betraying Thebes in war, and declared it illegal to have his body buried and honored properly. Because of his hubris, Kreon could not possibly accept the idea that a plan other than his own could be right, even if that plan was according to the gods. He felt so confident in himself that he considered anyone who thought otherwise utter fools. However, Kreon undergoes an evident change after his conversation with the prophet Tieresias who remi...


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...ragic figure.
Ironically, although the tragedy itself is named after her, Antigone is not the tragic figure of the play. Kreon, with his enlightening realization and uncontrollable mishaps, possesses qualities that better represent a tragic figure. He also corresponds to more aspects of Aristotle’s tragic hero model than Antigone does: Kreon is of noble beginnings, is fated by the gods to suffering, faces misfortune from an error judgment or personality flaw, is pitied by the audience, is enlightened or changed, and becomes a vessel for the audience’s catharsis. In the end, tragedies are essentially plays in honor of Dionysus. Through Kreon’s experiences in the play, the audience is reminded of their place in relation to the gods. Just as with every other aspect of Greek culture, religion plays a fundamental role in dictating the Greeks’ interpretation and response.

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