Tragedy is a description of an event that evokes a sympathetic feeling of emotion by the audience. The events involve people emotionally who were not involved in the situation physically. In the story of Antigone, Sophecles forces the audience to take pity on the poor girl’s situation. This story impacts the audience in such a way that the audience becomes emotionally enthralled in the plot of the story. All of Steiner’s, “Principle constants of conflict in the condition of man,” (360) were present in the tragic tale of Antigone. The conflicts confirm a tragic sense about the story.
In a tragedy drama is experienced and the characters typically suffer extremely. Consequently, this can happen because of a tragic mistake. The first of the ageless conflicts of man is, “the confrontation of men and women” (360). This principle is applied in the conflict between Antigone and Creon. Antigone broke a law that her uncle, Creon, had created. As a result of this she was to be killed. Sympathy is felt for Antigone because she was punished for take a stand for what she believed to be the right thing. Unfortunately the risk she took was going against her uncle Creon, who so happened to have power over her.
It was a tragic situation that Antigone was to be killed for such a ridiculous crime. Although Antigone should not have been punished for that law she had broken, she was willing to accept her death sentence. She said to Creon, “These laws- I was not about to break them, not out of fear of some man’s wounded pride, and face the retribution of the gods. Die I must, I’ve known it all my life- how could I keep from knowing? – Even without your death-sentence ringing in my ears. And if I am to die before my time I consider that a gain. Who on earth alive in the midst of so much grief as I, could fail to find this death a rich reward? 374)
Antigone was willing to risk her own life for the sake of her dead brother’s pride. Creon wants Antigone to know that he has control over her. She defied him and now he has no choice but to punish her. Otherwise it would mean a bruise on his reputation as a ruler. It would prove that he was of weak character, especially since a girl went against him. Creon said, “This girl was an old hand at insolence when she overrode the edicts we made public. But once she’d done it- the insolence, twice over- to glory in it, laughing, mocking us to our face with what she’d done.
I am not the man, not now: She is the man if this victory goes to her and she goes free. ” (375) Antigone made a fool out of her uncle and as a result he is retaliating in order to win back the control and power. She made it very difficult for Creon to feel satisfied with her execution. Antigone told him that she does not care if she dies because she already got what she wanted by burying her brother against Creon’s wishes. Even though she knew she was going to die she would die happy. Antigone won the battle over her uncle and the power struggle he put her through.
Enough. Give me glory! What greater glory could I win than to give my own brother decent burial? ” (375-376) Antigone told her uncle. Eteocles, Antigone’s other brother, was buried a well. His burial was not illegal because was not an enemy of Creon. Antigone tired tells him that every death deserves a proper burial no matter who they are. He was much closed-minded and refused to listen to her. The conflict of Antigone and Creon is a battle over power between man and woman. What makes this story even more tragic was the power Creon held over Antigone and her fate.
It was the power to decide whether she should live or die. He had the chance to free her from her doom. Although he realized this too late. When he realized this he gathered his men. He said to them, “Now- I’m on my way! Come, each of you, take up axes, make for the high ground, over there quickly! I and my better judgment have come round to this- I shackled her, I’ll set her free myself. I am afraidit’s best to keep the established laws to the very day we die. “(394) In this battle of man versus woman, Antigone had won. Creon had changed his ways, although, Antigone still died.
The second of Steiner’s principles of man is the conflict of age and youth. Creon has a confrontation with his son, Haemon, as well as his niece Antigone. At first Haemon is behind his father in his decision. When he first speaks with his father about the verdict of his bride, Antigone, he says, “Father, I’m your sonyou in your wisdom set my bearings for me- I obey you. No marriage could ever mean more to me than you, whatever good direction you may offer. “(380) The father and son began- to disagree when Haemon told his father that the people of Thebes disagreed with his decision.
Creon accuses him of taking the side of Antigone, “This boy I do believe, is fighting on her side, the woman’s died. “(383) Creon insulted his son by accusing him of taking the side of Antigone. Creon tells Haemon that he will not be able to marry his bride because he is going to kill her. It is a tragedy that a father is going to kill the woman that his son is in love with. This confrontation makes the audience feel sympathetic for Haemon. The situation became more tragic when Creon said, “Now, by heaven, I promise you, you’ll pay- taunting, insulting me!
Bring her out, that hateful- she’ll die now, here, in front of his eyes, beside her groom! “(384) The young conflicted with the old and resulted in death. This tragic confrontation led to the suicide of Haemon. The messenger alerted the people of Thebes of the death of Haemon and said, “Haemon’s gone, his blood spilled by the very hand-. “(395) This conflict was avoidable, yet ended in tragedy. Man conflicted with society is the following principle. At first Creon believed that the people of Thebes were on his side. He thought that the people would not break the laws that he created.
Creon said to Antigone, “You alone, of all the people of Thebes see things that way. “(376) He responded this way when Antigone told him that everyone disagrees with his decision but were to scared to speak up to him. Creon is confronted again with this situation when his son made him aware of this. Haemon tells his father, “The man in the street, you know, dreads your glance, he’d never say anything displeasing to your face. But it’s for me to catch the murmurs in the dark, the way the city mourns for this young girl. “(382) Haemon believed his father to be very stubborn and closed-minded.
His son visited a prophecy. Tiresias, the prophecy, told Creon that he could undo his mistake. The death of Antigone would cause more trouble than Creon had bargained for. The audience is forced to fell bad for the situation because Creon had been warned many times that he did not make the right decision. He refused to listen to the warnings. Creon replied to Tiresias’s prophet and said, “No reverend old Tiresias, all men fall its only human but the wisest fall obscenely when they glorify obscene advice with rhetoric- all for their own good. 392) It is ironic that when Creon said this he did not realize that he would be the one falling. Had he listened to his warnings earlier he would not have made such a tragically regrettable mistake. Another, of the five conflicts, is the confrontation of the living and the dead. This entire play is based around death for the mere fact that it began and ended with it. The entire point of the story was that Antigone wanted to burry her dead bother in order to pay her respects to him. In the first scene Antigone says to Ismene, “Why not? Our own brothers’ burial!
Hasn’t Creon graced one with all the rites, disgraced the other? Eteocles, they say, has been given full military honors, rightly so- Creon’s laid him in the earth and he goes with glory down among the dead. But the body of Polynices, who died miserably- why, a citywide proclamation, rumor has it, forbids anyone to bury him, even mourn him. He’s to be left unwept, unburied, a lovely treasure for the birds that scan the field and feast to their heart’s content. “(361) Ismene and Antigone are emotionally torn apart because both of their bothers were killed in battle.
To make matters worse, only one of their brothers was allowed legally to have a proper burial. Since they broke this law their lives were taken away from them. They knew the consequences of their actions. Yet, they proceeded anyway. Antigone warned her sister, “Such I hear, is the martial law our good Creon lays down for you and me- yes, me, I tell you- and he’s coming here to alert the uninformed in no uncertain terms, and he wont treat the matter lightly. Whoever disobeys in the least will die, his doom is sealed: stoning to death inside the city walls. 361) Before they committed the crime they knew Creon would seal their doom. They handed over their fate to him. It was tragic that these two sisters were willing to sacrifice their own lives for the respect of their dead brother. They were very loyal to their family. The story was filled with death. Not only had their two brothers died, but their father had passed as well. Their mother was dead as well. The audience has no choice but to feel sorrow for these two girls. They had suffered many losses. Four people in their family had died.
Their mother and father had commit suicide and their two brothers were killed in battle. The audience is led to believe that the only two the sisters have left is each other. Ismene thought of her future in terms of being dead. She knew she was going to die for her sin so she said to her sister, “I, for one, I’ll beg the dead to forgive me- I’m forced, I have no choice- I must obey the ones who stand in power. “(362) Antigone on the other hand did not care if she died. She felt she had nothing to lose. She made it seem as though her life was so horribly tragic that death was the only escape for from her horrible life.
Antigone said to Ismene, “Ant even if I died in the act, that death will be a glory. I will lie with the one I love and loved by him. “(363) Death was seen as an escape. The dead were not seen as gone, but in another world. They still existed but not among the living. In the end of the play three people added to the death count. Each death occurred because of another death. Antigone was killed because she buried her dead brother and it was against the law. Haemon killed himself because Antigone was killed. It was a tragedy that his own father had killed his bride.
Eurydice killed her self also. She was devastated that her son had killed himself. The entire play is filled with death. A lot of the dialogue also contains death. This set a tragic mood to the story. The last and final conflict of man is; man conflicted with the gods. Creon went against the gods when he decided to take the lives of others into his own hands. Antigone said to him, “Of course I did. It wasn’t Zeus, not in the least, who made this proclamation- not to me. Nor did that justice dwelling with the gods beneath the earth, ordain such laws for man. 374)
Antigone did not think that it was right that Creon imposed such laws upon them. She believed that the gods had control over them and she put her faith in Zeus. When she was talking to Ismene she said, “Do you know one, I ask you, one grief that Zeus will not perfect for the two of us while we still live and breathe? “(360) The gods had dealt her a tragic hand of life. Above all else she held the gods in highest power. One of the reasons why she did not obey her uncle’s law was because it was not a law created by the gods. “Do as you like, dishonor the laws the gods hold in honor. 363)
It was the gods law that she burry her brother. The people of Thebes feel the same way as Antigone. “Zeus, yours is the power, Zeus, what on earth can override it, who can hold it back? Power that neither sleep, the all-ensnaring no, nor the tireless months of heaven can ever overmaster- young through all the time, mighty lord of power, you hold fast the dazzling crystal mansions of Olympus. And throughout the future, late and soon as through the past, your law prevails: no towering form of greatness enters into the lives of mortals free and clear of ruin. 379)
It was a tragedy that Creon felt he could play god. He killed Antigone because he thought that he had the power to do so. There were very few people of Thebes that were on his side. Since he was the ruler he had the power to create laws. However, he did not have the power to go against the gods. The power he possessed went to his head. Tragedy is also present in the Aeschylus’s, Oresteia. Agamemnon had sacrificed his daughter to the gods. He had killed her for his own benefit. Calchas said, “My captains, Artemis must have blood! 307) Agamemnon killed sacrificed his daughter in order to protect himself because of a prophecy.
The profit told that terrible things would happen if he did not sacrifice blood. He said, “Obey, obey, or a heavy doom will crush me! – Oh but doom will crush me once I rent my child, the glory of my house- a father’s hands are stained, blood of a young girl streaks the altar. Pain both ways and what is worse? Desert the fleets, fail the alliance? No, but stop the winds with the virgin’s blood, feed their lust, their fury? – Feed their fury! – Law is law! – Let all go well. 307) Clytemnestra killed her husband upon his return from the battle of Troy. She was so heartbroken that he had killed her daughter.
The tragedy in this story is almost the same as that of Antigone. Death follows another death. Iphigenia was sacrificed by her father. He was killed for killing her and so was his mistress. Since Clytemnestra killed the two people she was sentenced to death. The tragedy is death. In the beginning of the story of Antigone the audience is forced to feel sorrow for Antigone. Towards the end they began to feel sympathy for Creon as well.
His display of moral weakness was the cause of three unnecessary deaths. The story of Antigone and Clytemnestra were different because the Antigone was the innocent party in the story. Clytemnestra may appear innocent to the audience but to the people in the story she was a murderess. Tragedy plays a large role in these two plays. An emotion of sorrow is felt by the audience. The characters of the plays go through terrible situations. Tragedy makes the stories more appealing to the audience because they become emotionally involved.