Antigone Is a Tragedy by Aristotle’s Rules
What are Aristotle’s five rules that are necessary to a tragedy? The play Antigone by Sophocles is considered a tragedy. There are five rules created by Aristotle that classify a tragedy. All plays must have catharsis, a tragic hero, a change in fortune within a character, must be poetic, and happen in one location, in one day, and it is all closely related. Two main characters are the king Creon and a girl named Antigone. Antigone is a tragedy because it exhibits and follows all five of Aristotle’s rules.
The first rule of Greek tragedy is it must have catharsis. Catharsis is having pity or terror. A character must scare the audience or make the audience feel bad for them. After the play audience must want to lead a better life. In Antigone, there is a girl names Antigone. She has two brothers who were soldiers. They both died, one had a proper burial and one was going to be left as food for the vultures, to be rotted away. Antigone did not want this to happen.
She uses catharsis in this quote: “But the unhappy corpse of Polyneices / he has proclaimed to all the citizens, / they say, no man may hide / in a grave nor mourn in funeral, / but leave unwept, unburied, a dainty treasure / for the birds that see him, for their feast’s delignt” (30-35). In this quote, Antigone wants the audience to feel pity for her. She is showing that she wants to bury her brother and that he should not be left for the birds to feast on. She wants her sister, Ismene, to also feel bad for not wanting to bury their brother.
Another example of catharsis in Antigone is as follows: CHORUS. But who is the murderer? Who is the murdered? Tell us. MESSENGER. Haemon is dead; the hand that shed his blood was his very own. CHORUS. Truly his own hand? Or his father’s? MESSENGER. His own hand, in his anger against his father for a murder. (1238-1244) This is an example of catharsis because the characters are making the audience feel pity towards Haemon, because he killed himself. Further on in the text, the Messenger also makes the audience feel pity towards Antigone because she dies a painful death in a chamber.
Catharsis is a big part of Antigone and also Greek tragedy. When you want to have a play that is a tragedy, a tragic hero is necessary. This tragic hero must be of high social standing. They must have a tragic flaw, something bad in their character, or make a bad decision that ruins a lot of people’s lives. The tragic hero in Antigone is Creon, the king. Creon is of high social standing because he is the king of Thebes. His major tragic flaw is he is arrogant. I will bring her there the path is loneliest, / and hide her alive in a rocky cavern there.
I’ll give just enough food as shall suffice… / Perhaps she will win from him escape from death / or at least in that last moment will recognize / her honoring of the dead is a labor lost (833-842) In this quote Creon is making himself look like he is taking charge and punishing Antigone harshly. He is trying to amplify what he plans to do to Antigone. He is being too proud. In reality, though, he did not do these things to the degree he boasts about to Antigone. Creon makes it seem that he is cruel, but he really is not as cruel as he appears.
Another time, the prophet is calling Creon out. Yield to the dead man; do not stab him– / now he is gone—what bravery is this, / to inflict another death apon the dead? I mean you well and speak well for your good. It is never sweeter to learn from a good counselor / than when he counsels to your benefit. ” (1078-1083) In this quote, the prophet is calling Creon arrogant. He may sound like he is complementing Creon, but he is being sarcastic. He does not appreciate Creon’s conceited attitude. Creon proves himself to be Antigone’s tragic hero.
One of the most important rules is of Greek tragedy, is that there must be a change in fortune within one or more characters. The character must have some sort of epiphany or their actions come back to either help or hurt them. They may even go from ignorance to knowledge. In Creon’s case, he went from ignorance to knowledge. “Yes I have learned it in my bitterness. At this moment / God has sprung on my head with a vast weight / and struck me down. He shook me in my savage ways; / he has overturned joy, has trampled it, / underfoot.
This mains men suffer / are pains indeed” (1337-1342). In the story, Creon locks up Antigone in a chamber for her wrongdoings. He realizes that what he did was wrong. He has a change of mind, from good to bad. “For my part, since my intention is so changed, / as I bound her myself, myself will free her. I am afraid it may be best, in the end / of life, to have kept the old accepted laws” (1179-1182). In this quote he says his intention has changed, he no longer wants to have Antigone locked up, nor does he want to kill her. He decides o change his ways and his laws. Creon is that character that goes through the most change in Antigone. The next rule is that a tragedy must be poetic. In Antigone the chorus is the most poetic of all the characters. Using metaphors and personification, there is no doubt that the chorus is a poetic group. “Lucky are those whose lives / know no taste of sorrow” (637-638). In this quote the chorus uses personification. Lives cannot taste, the chorus is giving life human traits. In Greek tragedy, there are three main plot details that are necessary.
One of the points is it must take place in twenty-four hours. The next one is it must be in one location. The last is it must all be closely related. Meaning, all parts of the story bust be cohesive. Aristotle realized that it may be difficult to make a play happen in twenty-four hours and in one day. Aristotle then took back the law of one day one location. It is no longer necessary for Greek tragedy to occur in a twenty-four hour time period and in one single location. Antigone is all closely related, although it may not occur in the same place and in only one day.
Antigone is truly a tragedy. Not only does it follow Aristotle’s rules, it also is a tragedy in the audience’s eyes that may not know the rules of Aristotle. It has a tragic hero, which is Creon. There is no doubt that there is catharsis, pity and wanting to lead a better life. Towards the end there is a change in fortune within Creon. The chorus makes Antigone poetic, and adds metaphors and personification. It does not happen in one day and in one place, but it is all closely related.