Antigone: a tragic hero
Why Antigone is considered a Tragic Hero?
According to (1992) tragedy explores the most serious predicament of human existence since we as audience put high value on its contrary and enjoy the transition of a particular literary piece into its painful end. The responses of the audience to tragic plays and literary pieces depend on the audiences’ assumption about the concept of tragedy in the context of the arts along with our perceptions and expectations on the unfolding of a story as well as our own tragic experiences. All these help in defining the concept of tragedy and in understanding the effect of literary dramas to audiences as it addresses the painful areas of our existence including failure, suffering, and death.
(1992) further pointed out that the reductive definitions of tragedy that is equivalent to death and suffering compromise the comprehensive undertaking of being able to digest fully the essence or substance of what tragic dramas offer. This due to the fact that tragedy does not revolve alone on the concepts of death and suffering but likewise tackles the more varied and complex context of a plot or setting provided by the author in a sense that literal presentation of characters and narratives are outshined by the figurative suggestions of the literary piece be it read or staged. As a result, different writers and critics follow their subjective in take of the literary piece in their relative definition of tragedy. Such undertaking can be likewise observed in this paper.
This paper then highlights the characteristics of Antigone to define and pass judgment that such literary creation is indeed a tragedy. As such, literary articles were reviewed to come up with sound definitions of tragedy in order to give wider perspective on the discussion of Antigone as a tragedy. Balancing the encountered stakes and claims of respected academicians and authors have helped in giving this paper the relative treatment it presents on the concept of tragedy in the context of Sophocles Antigone.
Antigone tells the story of the conflict that arose between Polynieces and his brother Eteocles regarding the succession of the throne of the father Oedipus. This resulted to the death of the both of them as brothers killing each other. The part played Creon as the new king in exercising his duties as a ruler brought about the pain and suffering of Antigone as Polynieces’ daughter. Since Creon decided contrasting fates to the remains of Eteocles and Polynieces, Antigone resorted to defying the will of the Creon which dictated her own fate. This further gave birth to the suffering of Haemon as Antigone’s fiancé who was purely hurt by how his father treated him and his wish to free his loved one. The gods then, intercepted, in their knowledge of the fate of Polynieces and his daughter, Antigone. Fulfilling the demands of gods and heeding to the warning of Teiresias, Creon had a changed of hearts. But it was too late as Haemon killed himself in seeing Antigone hanging dead in the cave. This likewise destroyed the life of his mother, Creon’s wife, who committed suicide and the tragic fate of Creon as a King.
(2001) claimed that the concept of “tragedy” originally came from the technical vocabulary of the pagan Greek theatre “goat song” or the sacrifice of a goat to Dionysus in a totemic ritual, out of which practice the Greek tragedies grew. Tragedy is considered as the highest form of literature and deals with the problem of pain and evil, the incongruity of the way things are, as well as the perception of how things should be. The conflicts among these assumptions bring the tragic atmosphere in literature. In the case of Antigone, it is evident why it was considered as a tragedy. The aspect of pain, evil, death, suffering, and the tricks of fate that brought the characters to pessimistic trance and decisions not just in the case of Antigone herself but also of the rest of the characters that suffered. This includes Creon the King in the loss of his son and wife, of Simene as Antigone’s sister, of Polynieces who was denied of decent burial, of Haemon’s failure to save Antigone, and of the scene from which the story began foretelling the tragic event between Eteocles and Polynieces.
Moreover, tragedy has powerful religious component in which Greek dramas are in a sense a depiction of ancient religious principles and ideals as illustrated in through the acts and character as well as relationship of men the gods. They are not ritualistic acts of worship but are undertaken in the objective to please the audience as a figurative manifestation of modern or contemporary dramas. As such, the plays are unapologetically didactic and moral for the taste of the people who went to see it. The common and regular teachings in tragedy highlights the pessimistic view of the fate to doom that is beyond the control of man and that such state is endured all throughout (2001). Antigone illustrated such claims in the role played by the gods in portraying a plot-changing turn of events in the narrative.
In the drama, the animals that feasted on the blood and flesh of Polynieces were the same creatures used by Creon as offers to the gods. They then knew of the tragic fate of Polynieces and the succeeding trials of Antigone. Their will to change such event turned out too late to undo the suffering and pain that Antigone and Ismene suffered along with the hardships encountered by Haemon and the disappointments of her mother in the end. This supported the irony of Greek tragedies highlighting the importance or significance of the roles of gods in the fate of the mortal men. In this regard, the argument presented by (2001) was evident in further illustrating the helplessness of men in the hands of the gods that greatly dictate the turn of events. Moreover, the prophecies of Teiresias supported the relevance of the gods in the drama and the tragic entire end.
According to (1994) the plots that characterize tragedy vary from simple to complex narratives since the actions they represent are naturally of this twofold description. Simple plots are those in which the action and the proceeding events were defined in a way that is continuous in telling in the entirety of the story and when the change in the hero’s fortunes takes place without the aspects or elements of discovery to surprise the audience. But on the other hand, complex plots involve both the aspect of pure narration and the element of surprise or discovery in which each of them arise out of the structure of the plot itself, so as to be the consequence, necessary or probable, of the antecedents.
Moreover, the common plots for tragedy includes the intermediate kind of personage, a man not pre-eminently virtuous and just, whose misfortune, however, is brought upon him not by vice and depravity but by some error of judgment. Furthermore, the perfect plot must have a single issue or conflict depicting the change in the hero’s fortunes that is not from misery to happiness, but on the contrary, from happiness to misery. Lastly, the cause of it must not be traced from some great error on his part and not on depravity (1994). In this case, it is Creon who has suffered and is depicted by the drama as the hero of the story as evident in the wrong decision he made and the pain it caused him in the end. Hence, with the presented criteria, Antigone is a definite classic tragedy.
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