Oedipus And Antigone Essay, Research Paper
Jay Freedman Mr. Doyle
12/21/99 College English
Oedipus the King and Antigone
Greek drama is about human nature and the human condition. Both Antigone and Oedipus the King by Sophocles are two of the most distinguished pieces of theatrical work that reflects upon Greek mythology and culture. In both of these works they are comparable because in both plays reasonable choices are made from the best possible motivation but are come back to haunt one day and both plays have a tragic hero.
In the play Oedipus the King, when Oedipus grows up and finds out he is a threat to his mother and father, he leaves who he believes are his parents in order to prevent his performing the horrible deeds predicted of him. When he meets Laius, his biological father, on the road, he kills him in what he considers self-defense. He then saves Thebes from the Sphinx and is rewarded with the hand in marriage of the recently widowed queen, with whom he conceives four children, who happen to also be his brothers and sisters, and his wife’s grandchildren. Each of the above actions lead to, and actually make possible, the terrible fate that befalls Oedipus.
In Antigone, the play starts after the day of a battle in which both sons of Oedipus, leaders of opposing armies killed each other in battle. Thebes, which is led by King Creon orders that Polyneices body, the traitor, is to be left unburied for the crows to eat. He also states that if anyone goes against his order that they will be sentenced to death. Antigone does not obey Creon s order because Polyneices is her brother and she believes even though he is a traitor to Thebes, that he deserves a proper burial. Creon sentences Antigone to death. Tiresias, the prophet, tells Creon to bury Polyneices with honors and to let go of Antigone. Creon refuses and Tiresias says A corpse for a corpse the price, and flesh for flesh, one your own begotten . (Antigone, 239) This quote means that if Creon does not obey he will pay with his son s life. Antigone kills herself before Creon can get to her in time. Her death triggers Haemon s death, the son of Creon, to also take his own life because he cannot live without his love. Once Creon s wife, Eurydice, found out about her son s death she immediately ran to her room and took her own life.
“Fate” is the word often used in conjunction with classic Greek literature and drama, but fate in the sense of pre-determined outcomes is not a perspective held by many Americans today. It is not that one is fated before one makes a choice to have certain consequences occur, but that certain consequences will eventually result from certain choices and actions. In both these plays fate determines both of the leader s results.
In the first play, Oedipus thinks he has escaped fate, but comes to realize, that he is wrong and has married his mother and killed his father. Once his wife/mother, Jocasta, finds out
about this, she commits suicide. Oedipus, gouges out his eyes because, he no longer wants to see if he cannot see his love and is exiled from Thebes for killing Laius. In Antigone, Creon does not believe in fate and his stubbornness makes him disobey Tiresias orders.
His decision results in the death of his son, and ultimately ends in the death of his wife.
Both charcaters tried to do something noble for their land but fate has is set for them that their lives will end in a disaster.
In both plays, there is a tragic hero. A tragic hero is someone who dies or who s life is destroyed for something that they have done that they believe is right and for the good of the land.
In Oedipus the King, he is trying to save Thebes from the plague. He has Creon, go to Apollo, the god of healing, and ask him what can he do to end this retched disease. Apollo replies that if they find the murderer of Laius and if he is banished than plague will be stopped. The murderer turns out to be Oedipus and he is banished from Thebes. This shows that he was trying to do something virtuous but ends up hurting himself.
In Antigone, Antigone seems to be the tragic hero. She dies for what she feels is a right and just cause. She wants to bury her brother s body, Polyneices, even though she knows she is disobeying Creon s law and will pay for her deeds with her life. She believes Creon cannot stop her from helping her family and says I go to raise a tomb above my dearest brother .(Antigone,194) This quote means that she will bury her brother no matter what consequences. After being accused of disobeying Creon s law for burying Polyneices, Creon sentences her to death, but Antigone takes her own life before she is murdered.
Both of these plays discuss how people can not escape fate, no matter how good or bad they are in life and that fate is something that is pre-determined and cannot be changed. Also they both have a tragic hero, one of then is Oedipus while the other is Antigone. They both die for the something that they thought was right.