Essay on Antigone - The Tragic Flaw

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Antigone - The Tragic Flaw

Antigone, Sophocles’ classical Greek tragedy, presents tragic flaw as the cause of the destruction of Creon, the king of Thebes. This essay examines that flaw and the critical perspective on it.

Robert D. Murray, Jr. in “Thought and Structure in Sophoclean Tragedy” gives the perspective of the Greek audience, and thereby the reason why there has to be a tragic flaw in Sophoclean tragedy: “A Greek of the fifth century would, of course, have felt. . . . that moral instruction was a vital and valuable function of tragic drama, in particular, and that the voice of the poet was the voice of morality and wisdom as well as of beauty” (23).

In Antigone the new king, Creon,
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Ismene interacts with Antigone as a foil, demurring in the face of Creon’s threat of stoning to death as punishment for violators of his decree regarding Polynices. Antigone is a religious person who is not afraid of death, and who respects the laws of the gods more than those of men:

Nay, be what thou wilt; but I will bury him: well for me to die in doing that. I

shall rest, a loved one with him whom I have loved, sinless in my crime; for I owe a longer allegiance to the dead than to the living: in that world I shall abide for ever. But if thou wilt, be guilty of dishonouring laws which the gods have established in honour.

Ismene is unmoved by the reasoning and sentiments of her sister: “I do them no dishonour; but to defy the State,-I have no strength for that.” Her conflict with her sister over the unlawful interment is not a serious conflict for either of the sisters. Ismene, in parting, accuses Antigone of foolishness in her bold plans: “Go, then, if thou must; and of this be sure,-that though thine errand is foolish, to thy dear ones thou art truly dear.” Ismene, one might say, is “humble and pious” to the king first and to the gods secondly. Creon is introduced into the drama, the antithesis of humility and piety; he replaces Eteocles as ruler in Thebes: “I now possess the throne and all its powers, by nearness of kinship to
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