Tragedy in Sophocles’ Oedipus The King and AntigoneThe Greeks considered tragedy the greatest form for literature. However, the tragic ends for the characters were not ordained or set by fate, but rather caused by certain characteristics belonging to that person. Such is the case with the characters of Sophocles’ plays Oedipus the King and Antigone. Oedipus from King Oedipus, and Antigone and Creon from Antigone posses characteristics, especially pride, that caused their tragic ends. As the play progress, other characteristics appear and further add to the problem to such a point that it is inevitable that it will end in tragedy. Therefore the tragedies were not a result of a plot by the fates, but rather a result of the characteristics that the characters possessed.
The characters posses a multitude of traits, some of them common to all of them. Pride is especially prevalent. This characteristic seems to be the major tragic flaw or hamartia that eventually causes the downfall. Oedipus exhibits a vast amount of pride, which seems to border on sheer arrogance. This is demonstrated in the beginning of the play where he states, “I, Oedipus, whose name is known afar.”(p. 25). This is reinforced by the priest’s replies of, “Oedipus great and glorious,”(p.26) and, “O greatest of men.”(p.26). Therefore it may be concluded that Oedipus obviously posses a large amount of pride. Antigone, daughter and sister of Oedipus also posses the same trait. Creon acknowledges this when he says, “This girl’s proud spirit,”(p.139) and Antigone confirms this with her grand speech to Creon, where she states, “I knew that I should have to die… living in daily torment as I do, who would not be glad to die?” (p.138). Thus the pri…
…in both King Oedipus and Antigone there were characters whose lives ended in tragedy. However these falls from grace were no the deeds of fate, but rather that of the character themselves. The characteristics, especially pride, of the people set them on the path. Therefore the faults of the characters were the cause of their ill-fated end.
Dodds, E. R. “On Misunderstanding the Oedipus Rex.” Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Michael J. O’Brien. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1968. 17-29.
Sophocles. “Oedipus Rex.” An Introduction to Literature, 11th ed. Eds. Sylvan Barnet, et al. New York: Longman, 1997.
Sophocles. Antigone. Exploring Literature: Writing and thinking About Fiction,Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. Ed. Joseph Terry. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc, 2001.