Analysis of Antigone as a Greek Tragedy

Analysis of Antigone as a Greek Tragedy

Greek Tragedy Characteristics

Greek tragedy characteristics analysis of Antigone A Greek tragedy is very unique it’s structure, composition, and language. The tragedy usually begins with a prologue in which one or more characters introduce the drama and explain the background. It involves a Chorus of some sorts, which says or explains the situation that is developing on the scene, and also includes a tragic hero who comes from noble bloodline and has a tragic flaw that ultimately causes his downfall. The hero’s downfall is caused often times, by fate, something that is inevitable or unavoidable.

The tragedy then ends with the Exodus, which shows the dissolution of the story. Through the tragic downfall, the author usually strikes catharsis in readers, causing them to feel sympathy and remorse for the tragic hero. Sophocles, one of the masters of Greek tragedies, uses these characteristics to write “Antigone”. Through analysis of “Antigone”, it is clear that many elements of Greek tragedies are present, which obviously classifies “Antigone” as a tragic play. One of the more evident characteristics of Greek tragedy exemplified in “Antigone” is the use of a Chorus.

The Chorus comes in around line one hundred and says, “Against our land he marched, sent here by the warring claims of Polyneices, with piercing screams, an eagle flying above our land, covered wings as white as snow, and hordes of warriors in arms, helmets topped with horsehair crests. ” The Chorus comes in celebrating the recent Theban victory. It serves as means of providing background information on the scene. Through the chorus, it becomes clear that the Thebans have just won a battle.

The Chorus tells the story of Oedipus killing his father and marrying his mother, and his two sons fighting over the thrown after their father’s death. The Chorus recreates in bloody imagery the battle to take Thebes. In Greek tragedies, the ultimate purpose of the Chorus is to offer a variety of background and information to help the audience follow the performance. The Chorus comments on themes and shows how an ideal audience might react to the drama. In “Antigone” the Chorus does just this; it directly affects the action of the play, and helps provide background information.

Analysis of Antigone

Another characteristic of Greek tragedies that Sophocles uses in “Antigone” is the tragic hero. This element of tragedy is not as evident as others; it takes analysis and observation to breakdown every aspect of the character and prove that they are a tragic hero. In Sophocles’ classic play “Antigone”, Antigone meets the criteria of a tragic hero in a number of ways. She is at once virtuous in the eyes of others and guilty in the eyes of the law; she is willing to face the dire consequences of what she considered to be an honorable act; and she elicits great pity in others because she stands alone in her actions.

In a Greek tragedy, the tragic hero is defined as a person bearing high station with a character that can be judged as neither pure good or pure evil, but it is that same character that leads to their inevitable downfall. A tragic flaw is key to a tragic hero because it is the thing that brings them to their downfall. Antigone can be considered a tragic hero for multiple reasons. Antigone’s tragic flaw is her arrogance; her prideful, uncompromising, unyielding passion. An example of this unyielding passion is the burial of her brother.

She heard Creon’s decree concerning her brother’s burial, “and yet she dared defy the law”. Knowing she could die, she still would rather die for burying Polyneices than die a “death without honor,” for she believes “that this crime is holy. ” Full of courage, she is “not afraid of the danger,” and even though it means death she demands that ” she will bring him. ” Also, like many tragic heros, Antigone arouses great pity because she stands alone in her actions. When she asks Ismene to accompany her in burying Polyneices, her sister replies that she must yield to those in authority and cannot break laws.

It is evident through analysis of Sophocles’ play, “Antigone”, it can be considered as Greek tragedy. A Greek tragedy consists of many elements, all which “Antigone” possesses. Both the Chorus, and Antigone’s inevitable downfall add to its classification as a Greek tragedy. “Antigone” is just one example of Sophocles’ excellence and mastering of Greek tragedies. . The story behind Antigone is one of repulsive thoughts and gruesome endings, but a fitting piece into the workings of Greek tragedy.