Sophocles' Antigone - The Real Tragedy

Sophocles' Antigone - The Real Tragedy

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Tragedy of Antigone


The play “Antigone” by Sophocles displays many qualities that make it a great tragedy.  A tragedy is defined as a dramatic or literary work in which the principal character engages in a morally significant struggle ending in ruin or profound disappointment. In creating his tragedy “Antigone”, Sophocles uses many techniques to create the feelings of fear and pity in his readers. This in turn creates an excellent tragedy.

      In order for a play to be considered a tragedy it must achieve the purgation of fear and pity.  In the play “Antigone”, Sophocles does a great job of bringing out these two emotions in a reader. At the beginning of the play there is a conversation between Antigone and her sister Ismene. During the conversation the reader learns the two girls lost their father in battle and both of their brothers at the hands of one another. Then the reader learns that one of the brothers, Polynices, has been left out to die without a proper burial. At this time the reader begins to feel pity for the two sisters. They have lost their father and their two brothers all at the same time. 

          Later in the conversation the reader learns that Antigone has a plan to bury here brother Polynices and that she wants Ismene to help her. Ismene is scared to do this because the new king, Creon, has issued a decree that says that any person that attempts to bury the body will be sentenced to death.  The fact that Antigone is going to attempt to bury the body creates fear in the reader. They are fearful as to what will happen to

 Antigone if she is caught.  As the play moves on there is a building of this fear and pity that is felt for many of the characters that finally is resolved at the catastrophe. At that point the reader learns that Creon, the king, has lost his wife, his son, and his niece Antigone, all because he was too stubborn to give in as well as to afraid that if he did give in that he would be judged as an easy king. In a way this ending brings the two emotions together. The reader feels pity for Creon because of his great loss, but at the same time he feels a bit of fear because he wouldn’t want this type of tragedy to ever occur in his life.

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      During the play the reader learns that one of the many themes of this play is stubbornness sometimes blinds you to the effects of your actions. The fact that Antigone was stubborn and wanted to bury her brother no matter the cost teaches us this lesson. It can also be seen in Creon’s unwillingness to give in to Antigone no because he didn’t want to be looked at in a certain way.  Instead, he lost everything that he had and was left at the end of the play in great pain and alone. This theme has great relevance in the modern day.  Many times you hear in the news of a particular reader or country that refuses to give in or give up their pursuit of something because they don’t want the rest of the world to think that they were a weaker nation. It is a common theme in today’s society.

      In the play “Antigone”,  Sophocles uses many features that would classify the play as a Greek tragedy. The reason why this tragedy stands above many others is due to the use of various techniques that enable the reader to feel the emotions of fear and pity.
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