Was Antigone A Tragic Heroine? Essay, Research Paper
Was Antigone a Tragic Heroine?
?Tragedy, to be at its finest, requires a complex, not a simple, structure, and its structure should also imitate fearful and pitiful events.? These words of wisdom come from the great philosopher Aristotle. Antigone, written by Sophocles, exemplifies Aristotle?s definition of tragedy, and more precise the tragic heroine. Antigone the main character/heroine in this tragic tale, risks her life to bury her brother Polyneices. As she pleased the Gods, she was punished by family member and king, Creon. Antigone parallels Aristotle?s definition of a tragic heroine because she attains a fatal flaw, and instills fear and pity into the audience.
Antigone?s fatal flaw is that she is stubborn. Antigone was determined to bury her brother regardless of any punishment she would receive for it. In fact, she knew what the repercussions were before she buried him, and yet she still chose to do it. She wouldn?t even lie about it when Creon asked her if she confesses, she said ?I deny nothing.? (208) This cannot more blatantly illustrate how stubborn she is. She dies because of her stubbornness. Antigone most likely gets her stubborn side from Oedipus. If Oedipus would have listened to the prophet and not have been so stubborn in searching for the truth he would have never found out he killed his dad and married his mom. If she would have just listened to what Creon ordered, or lied about it, than she probably would have lived throughout the play. But if she would have lived there would be no point to the play. In order to fulfill the tragedy she must die. This is why she possesses the fatal flaw stubbornness.
Along with giving Antigone a fatal flaw, Sophocles also makes us (the audience) pity her. The way he writes the play makes the audience feel sorry for her. We feel pity for this poor little girl who is being sentenced to death by evil King Creon. Sophocles makes it seem that this innocent girls is being sentenced to death for merely standing up for what she believes is good and right in her eyes and in the eyes of the Gods. Antigone understands that life is only temporary, but death is forever and this is why she stresses the importance of following the laws of the Gods. In this case who would not pity her for being sentenced to death for doing something so righteous? It was sad when Antigone knew she would have to die although she was doing a good deed. When Antigone was pleading with her sister Icemen not to confess to burying she said ?You are alive, but I belong to death.? (213) This makes the audience pity her even more. It feels like she is going to die regardless and there is nothing anyone can do to help. She said this because even if Creon didn?t kill her she would kill herself if kept in a small cell away from those who she loved. This also contributes to making us feel sorry for her.
The final element that produces the tragic heroine is that Sophocles makes the audience fear for Antigone. We are afraid for Antigone because her fate was already known just like Oedipus? fate, she would die. ?I have seen this gathering sorrow from time long past loom upon Oedipus? children: generation from generation?? (215) The chorus meant that they knew that all of Oedipus? children have not died with such sadness and sorrow just by coincidence. It has all been part of the Oedipus curse. This also makes the Audience scarred knowing that a family is plagued by a curse.
Antigone is an accurate representation of Aristotle?s tragic heroine. She has a fatal flaw, she makes us pity her, and makes us fear for her. Her stubbornness is what essentially kills her in the long run. We as the audience fear for her because she is fated to die. Last but not least we pity her because she is sentenced to death for doing something she sees in her eyes as just. We wanted Antigone to succeed because we know that Antigone is doing the ?right thing? by burying her brother, pleasing the Gods, and following her heart.