Antigone, as Described by Aristotle
Antigone, As Described By Aristotle The tragic play Antigone, written by Sophocles, is a story of mixed emotions and drastic reactions. At the beginning of the play, the current ruler of Thebes, Creon, orders that no one is to touch the deceased Polynecies. However, Antigone has a very different plan for his body. Antigone tries to convince her sister, Ismene, to help her bury her brother, but she is too afraid to break the law. After sprinkling dirt on the body, Creon sentences Antigone to death, even though she is engaged to be married to Creon’s son, Haimon.
Antigone, Haimon, and Creon’s wife, Eurydice, all commit suicide in the end. Antigone exemplifies Aristotle’s classical definition of a tragedy by consisting of quantitative and organic parts, making the story seem probable, and having a tragic hero. In Aristotle’s definition of a tragedy, he states that there must be two parts: quantitative and organic. When reading Antigone, the quantitative parts, prologos, episodes, choric, odes, and exodos, are clearly labeled before each section. The story also has organic parts, recognition and pathos.
The recognition part of the play is when Creon decides to release Antigone because it is the wrong thing to do. He says, “Come with me to the tomb. I buried her, I/ will set her free,” (act 5, lines 106-107). The pathos, or scene of suffering, occurs to Creon when the realization that everyone is dead hits him. He is engulfed in sorrow and self-sufferance because his wife and son have perished. He even goes far enough to say, It is right that is should be. I alone am guilty. I know it, and I say it. Lead me in, Quickly, friends.
I have neither life nor substance. Lead me in (act 4, lines 121-124) When reading carefully, the parts of Antigone are obvious to the reader, coinciding with Aristole’s definition. Another part of Aristotle’s definition is that the story line should be probable. Antigone’s plot seems possible because of the real emotions and the plausible, drastic reactions to them. For example, Antigone feels very strongly about having a proper burial for Polynecies, so she puts dirt on him, not caring about the law Creon has created.
Also, when she commits suicide, she feels she shouldn’t show any weakness and shouldn’t seem vulnerable. She said, Thebes, and you my fathers’ gods, And rulers of Thebes, you see me now, the last Unhappy daughter of a line of kings, Your kings, led away to death. You will remember What things I suffer, and at what men’s hands, Because I would not transgress the laws of heaven (scene 4, lines 75-80). Haimon loves Antigone so much he cannot bear to see her murdered at his own fathers’ hands. He then commits suicide as well, as a reaction to the love he has for her.
The emotions and reactions to them in this play are probable, and therefore fit Aristotle’s definition of a tragedy. One last part that_ Antigone _must fulfill is that it must have a tragic hero that is a ruler or leader. In Antigone, Creon is the tragic hero because he is the ruler of Thebes. Even though Creon is usually unfriendly and hostile, his intentions are good. He knew that leaving Polynecies’ corpse unburied was disrespectful and wrong, but he felt the need to show that a traitor should not have an honorable burial. He was stubborn and thought everyone should follow his orders.
He wanted to prove he was a man of his word. Creon’s pride is his tragic flaw that he consistently shows throughout the play. For example, he says, “My voice is the one voice giving orders in this city,” (scene 3, line 105). He let his pride win him over by punishing Antigone. He was adamant about not changing his mind because he believed he was right. He told Haimon, “You will never marry her while she lives,” (scene 3, line 118). However, he comes to regret his decision, and tries to correct it by freeing Antigone from his death sentence, but he was too late.
Creon, as the tragic hero, also makes Antigone fit the definition of a tragedy given by Aristotle. In conclusion, Antigone is a tragedy, as defined by Aristotle. The parts, quantitative and organic, are clearly present in Antigone. The probability of the play is very likely. Finally, Creon is the tragic hero. Antigone illustrates Aristotle’s classical definition of a tragedy by consisting of many parts throughout the play, making the story seem possible, and having a tragic hero.