The Fulfillment of Aristotle’s Rules of Tragedy in Antigone
In Aristotle’s Poetics he analyzes in detail the various factors that make up a good tragedy. According to Aristotle, Tragedy is, “an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude, in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament…” (pg.10). He goes on to state the most important pieces of a tragedy, the first and most significant being a well-constructed plot. In order to achieve this, a tragedy must have a distinct being, middle, and end (which must be obtained within a short period of time) and contain unlikely coincidences that are striking to the audience. A tragedy’s plot is split into two parts, the Complication and the Unraveling, and a tragedy would not be complete without a Scene of Suffering. Finally, a tragedy must have a tragic character (a noble or person of high status) whose tragic flaw becomes their downfall. Sophocles, Antigone fulfills all of these rules and therefore is considered a good tragedy.
Despite the play’s name, the tragic character in Antigone is Creon, king of Thebes. Creon fits mold of the tragic character put forth in Poetics. Aristotle says that a tragic character must, “… be one who is highly renowed and prosperous” (pg.23). He goes on to say that this character’s “…change of fortune should be… from good to bad. It should come about as the result… of some great error or frailty” (pg.23). In Antigone, Creon starts out as a very highly regarded King whom everyone looks up to and takes orders from, yet by the end of the play he has nothing. Creon’s tragic flaw that leads to his downfall is his arrogance. To him, his way is right no matter what anyone else says. Oedipus had two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, and upon his death it was decided that Eteocles would take the thrown for a year, and then Polynices would do the same. However, when it came time for Polynices to do so, Eteocles refused to step down, so Polynices with a...
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