Structure in Sophocles' Antigone Essays

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Structure in Sophocles' Antigone Aristotle in his Poetics (chap. 7) says: ?[L]et us now discuss the proper structure of the plot, since this is the first and most important thing in tragedy? (1033). M. H. Abrams says that ?almost all literary theorists since Aristotle have emphasized the importance of structure, conceived in diverse ways, in analyzing a work of literature? (300). The matter of the structure of Sophocles? Antigone is a subject of varying interpretation among literary critics, as this essay will reveal. Gilbert Murray, professor at Oxford University in England, cites structure as one of the reasons why he chose Sophocles to translate. Then he elaborates on this structure: ?But Sophocles worked by…show more content…
before the gods (Murray 25) and would not tempt the gods by leaving the corpse of her brother unburied, challenging her uncle, Creon, the king of Thebes who ?destined our brothers, the one to honoured burial, the other to unburied shame?? Antigone?s offer to Ismene (?Wilt thou aid this hand to lift the dead?) is quickly rejected, so that Antigone resolves that she must bury Polynices by herself: 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. Thus Antigone?s firm resolution to contradict the king?s decree introduces Aristotle?s ?complication? into the tragedy. And such complication becomes more serious with each successive episode in the plot. Creon represents 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 the dead.? Creon explains to the elderly Thebans of the chorus the rationale behind the new edict regarding Polynices, which stipulates: ?. . .it hath been proclaimed to our people that none shall grace him with sepulture or lament, but leave him unburied, a corpse for birds and dogs to eat, a ghastly

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