Antigone Tragic Character Analysis

Improved Essays
“The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of the Divinity itself, and can never be obscured by mortal power,”. The effacing of basic human rights by a mortal power plays a central role in Antigone, the third and final of Sophocles’ Theban tragedies. Set in the aftermath of both Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone follows the rebellion of Oedipus’ daughter Antigone against her uncle Creon, the current ruler of Thebes. Antigone and her sister, Ismene, return to Thebes following the death of their father. Upon arriving, the sisters learn their brothers–Etoecles and Polynices–slaughtered each other. …show more content…
A key component of the tragedy is the tragic character. Suffering characters experience pain passively. Often, tragic characters are great men who deliberately choose to oppose a powerful figure, thus earning themselves pain. Antigone presents two main possibilities for tragic characters: Antigone and Creon. However, as the play centers around Antigone, it follows that she is, arguably, the most tragic character. Aristotle identifies Oedipus Rex as the ideal tragedy. As Oedipus Rex details the story of Oedipus, Aristotle utilizes Oedipus as an ideal tragic hero. This same examination can be applied to Oedipus’ daughter Antigone. Antigone satisfies Aristotle’s conditions for a tragic character because she meets the great man criterion, she exposes a flaw in society, and she commits a …show more content…
Hamartia–often translated fatal mistake or error–ultimately undoes the hero, or heroine, thus turning her story into a tragedy. According to Aristotle, the hamartia accounts for the reversal of fortunes by its own definition, i.e. because it is a fatal mistake, “the change of fortune should be not from bad to good, but, reversely, from good to bad. It should come about as the result not of vice, but of some great error or frailty, in a character,”. Antigone’s hamartia is her attempted burial of Polynices. Ismene warns Antigone of this, but Antigone refuses to listen claiming, “I will bury him myself. And even if I die in the act, that death will be a glory. I will lie with the one I love and loved by him–an outrage sacred to the gods!…Do as you like, dishonor the laws the gods hold in honor,” (85-92). Antigone’s hamartia, though most noble, ultimately kills her. Despite her conformity to Aristotle’s criteria, some may still argue that Creon, not Antigone, better fulfills the role of tragic character in

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    "My god, my god, what have you planned to do to me?" - Oedipus (Sophocles ). No matter how hard he tried to run from his fate and he still ended up killing his father and marrying his mother. He then punishes himself for all the thing that he has choose to do and believe. He blinds himself after seeing his mother kill herself over the fact that she married and slept with her own son, and then had his children.…

    • 978 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Role Of Tragedy In Othello

    • 1613 Words
    • 7 Pages

    Tragedies come in all shapes and sizes. Natural disasters, death of a love one, and to a child, the loss of a beloved pet can be a tragic event. According to Greek philosopher Aristotle, the makings of a great tragedy include a person of “high-estate” whose downfall is due to his own tragic flaw. Aristotle says “Tragedy is an imitation of an action of high importance, complete and of some amplitude; in language enhanced by distinct and varying beauties; acted not narrated; by means of pity and fear effecting its purgation of these emotions” (Kennedy and Gioia 858). Tragedies allow for the audience members to relate to the heroes of the stories by observing their flaws and self-induced catastrophes.…

    • 1613 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    “Macbeth” is a true Aristotelian tragedy due to the fact that it depicts the downfall of a basically good person such as Macbeth, it demonstrates the audience’s response of pity and fear throughout the tragedy, and it shows the hero’s end is a consequence of a personal error or decision made earlier in the play. William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” reflects the fundamentals of Aristotelian tragedy where the main protagonist must be an admirable person. The tragic hero had to be an all-around, good individual, liked by everyone around them, such as Macbeth. Even though he is well-liked by everyone, Macbeth still encounters a downfall based off of his own ambitions, leaving the audience feeling both fear and remorse. Aristotle would be amazed at an English tragic play like “Macbeth;” for it has followed the rules of the Aristotelian tragedy, making it a true…

    • 1061 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    A simple mistake that Brutus could not take back caused his own downfall. Catharsis is shown through Brutus’ death which makes him the tragic hero, according to Aristotle’s…

    • 1396 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In this tragedy of the Elizabethan era, one will come to understand what makes a true tragic hero, and how this ultimately leads the character to their downfall. Throughout this play, Hamlet and Ophelia both prove themselves to be tragic heroes through their fatal flaws; Hamlet’s indecisiveness and Ophelia’s…

    • 1613 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Oedipus The Tragic Hero Oedipus, Sophocles’ most well-known tragic heroes in the history of playwright set the standard for writing Greek tragedies. According to Aristotle, who defined tragedy as a story that begins with the protagonist being someone who is extraordinary compared to the typical heroes that audience are used to or a great hero’s reversal of fortune. The character’s personality leads to his or her own downfall at the end resulting in a more terrifying ending. Aristotle admired Sophocles because of his work on Oedipus the King, which represents Aristotle’s visual manifestation of a Greek tragedy as well as a tragic hero, even with his flaws, he was able to stand firm on his virtue. According to the Aristotelian theory of tragedy…

    • 1358 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In the story Antigone she struggles with the law when trying to bury her brother in secrecy from King Creon who made a law that anyone who tries to bury him would be killed.Antigone thought that wasn't fair and she risked her life to do it, but Creon catches antigone and sentences her to death.As the story progresses Creon starts to show tragic hero characteristics. These three characteristics show that Creon is a tragic…

    • 719 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In this case the ending seems to be a just but tragic one. Consequently it seems evident that Macbeth could justly be considered a “tragic hero” as his grievous story satisfies the defined criteria for a tragic hero. Macbeth holds a substantial amount of power, shows essential truths about humanity through his suffering, has tragically wasted qualities, contains a tragic flaw leading to his downfall and ultimately finds some form of resignation in his…

    • 711 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In the end he becomes a tyrant and is taken down in a civil war. There are several themes in the play that occur. A theme that is represented in Macbeth is that of a tragic hero. A tragic hero is a character that the audience pities or sympathises with despite their wrongdoings, but does not necessarily forgive. Macbeth himself is the most obvious tragic hero in the play.…

    • 773 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Antigone: A Tragic Hero

    • 634 Words
    • 3 Pages

    We have to wonder, wouldn’t we choose the same thing? A tragic hero is a man or woman of high standing who is capable of great mental of physical suffering and possesses many excellent character qualities. Despite the great character, the hero has a hamartia, or one fatal flaw that led to his or her downfall. By this standard of Greek philosopher Aristotle, Antigone is tragic…

    • 634 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays