Antigone Essay Emotion conveys a real human being behind the words. Emotion conveys to one that the writer cares about what they write about. This is shown through the characters in the story and the vibes of empathy they give the reader. It puts the reader in relationship with the work. This is exactly what Sophocles did in Antigone; he was a master at creating pity in his audience. In Robert Fagles translation of Antigone, Sophocles evokes pity through similes, foreshadowing, and the tone he establishes towards Antigone. Antigone’s wish of her obligation to bury Polynices, created pity through similes.
When the sentry entered to tell Creon who had buried Polynices, he said, “[Antigone] cried out a sharp, piercing cry, like a bird [coming] back to an empty nest, peering into its bed, and all the babies gone…. Just so, when [Antigone] sees the corpse bare she bursts into a long wail and calls down withering curses on the heads of all who did the work” (Sophocles 470-476). This action Antigone had done brings compassion and pity to the reader because she sacrifices her life just to give her dead brother a proper burial. She had to go through all the deaths of her mom, Oedipus, and now both her brothers.
The hardship and pain she has been through brings pity to the reader for her. The simile compares her to a mother bird to describe her caring and compassionate ways. Another simile is when Tiresias says, “I loose them like an archer in my anger, arrows deadly true. You’ll never escape their burning, searing force” (Sophocles 1207-1209). Tiresias is saying that his prophecies are never a lie and that no matter what Creon does, it is still a fact that he can not avoid. Creon will never escape the misery if he does not listen to Tiresias but because of Creon’s hubris he will kill his wife, Haemon, and Antigone.
Pity is created for Creon because he has also become the tragic hero because he unknowingly is digging a hole for himself by not listening to Tiresias. The foreshadowing of Antigone’s death arouses pity for those who see the dilemma she is facing. Antigone is willing to be stoned to death in order to fulfill what she feels is her duty to bury Polynices. Creon himself foretells that, “the stiffest stubborn will fall the hardest; the toughest iron, tempered strong in the white-hot fire, you’ll see it crack and shatter first of all” (Sophocles 528-531).
The way Creon conveys Antigone is perfect. He identifies her tragic flaw and foresees the effect of this flaw. He describes her personality all throughout Antigone and how this will come in her way. Due to this sad foreshadowing, it brings sympathy for Antigone and her foretold death. Chorus also foreshadows, “[Antigone’s] passion has destroyed [her]” (Sophocles 962). The chorus sees her stubbornness will destroy her and be her tragic flaw and cause the downfall in this tragedy. Antigone will not let go and will fight Creon no matter what.
Sophocles also instills the tone of pity by making all the characters in the book pity and sympathize for Antigone. Haemon explains to Creon, “But it’s for me to catch the murmurs in the dark, the way the city mourns for this young girl. “No woman,” they say, “ever deserved death less, and such a brutal death for such a glorious action. She, with her own dear brother lying in his blood—she could not bear to leave him dead, unburied, food for the wild dogs or wheeling vultures. Death? She deserves a glowing crown of gold! ” So they say…” (Sophocles 775-783).
Haemon describes what the people of Thebes feel about this situation which is exactly the opposite of what Creon had said. Creon said that only Antigone of the people in Thebes felt that this would give her glory. Sophocles portrays all the people of Thebes also supporting her actions and applauding rebellion and glorious deed. He makes this a pitiful speech due to the fact that Antigone will die even after all the wonderful things she has done. She will become the tragic hero. Antigone goes through the pain and suffering.
Even the Chorus feels that, “Your life’s in ruins, child—I wonder… do you pay for your father’s terrible ordeal” (Sophocles 945-946). She was reminded once again the curse that was brought over Oedipus and how it killed her entire family. She feels so much pain and grief for what has happened that a reader would feel sympathy for her. Sophocles elicits pity by using epic similes, foreshadowing, and the tone he installs towards Antigone. Pity is what defined Antigone as a tragic hero. It gave the character a defined personality. Just like in all the greatest Greek plays ever written, Antigone evokes great pity.