Antigone Tragic Character Analysis

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“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

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