Antigone by Aristotle

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Life has a way of becoming complicated. Problems between friends, foes, and even family members develop everyday for people of all walks of life. It is part of human nature to disagree, cause conflict and fight for what we believe in even if that means stepping on someone else’s toes along the way. Aristotle had thoughts on complication dating back to 335 B.C when he wrote Poetics- the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory. In it he analyzed tragedies and theorized that every tragedy falls into two parts- complication and unraveling or denouncement. Sophocles stated, “By complication I mean all that extends from the beginning of the action to the part which marks the turning-point to good or bad fortune. The Unraveling is that which extends from the beginning of the change to the end”(127). In the tragedy Antigone written by Sophocles in 441 B.C, complication and denouncement are seen throughout the play as a sister, Antigone stands up for her brother’s burial rights as King Creon denies him of any. Complication and denouncement are used by Sophocles to aid in the character development of Antigone and Creon whose mindsets are altered from close-minded to open-minded. Both characters situations prove that being close-minded in life can result in things unraveling for the worse.

Antigone is very close-minded from the beginning of the play after she hears King Creon’s plan for her dead brother. Antigone’s father Oedipus initially ruled the throne and when it was time for it to be passed down, her brothers Eteocles and Polyneices disputed over who would become king. They planned to take turns ruling but Eteocles would not give his brother time on the throne so Polyneices attacked and both brothers end up dead. Antigone’s uncle Creon was next in line to take the throne and it was his first decree that caused complication between niece and uncle. Creon wished that Etocles have a heroic burial as a reward for fighting for his city. For Polyneices, Creon insisted that, “This man will have no grave. It is forbidden to offer any funeral rites; No one in Thebes may bury him or mourn for him. He must be left unburied. May dogs feed on his limbs, a spectacle of utter shame”(149). Antigone is very close-minded about the situation and expresses to her sister Ismene that Creon, “has no right to keep me from my own”(146). Ismene reminds her that anyone who goes against Creon’s wishes for her brother’s burials will be stoned to death. Antigone is then faced with an internal complication between loyalty to her family and loyalty to the state but her close-minded loyalty to her brother makes the decision for her. Antigone tries to explain to her sister that she must bury her blood brother when she says, “But he is mine. And yours. Like it or not, he’s our brother. They’ll never catch me betraying him”(146).Kinship was very important during this time period and in this case Antigone would rather die for her brother’s rights than live and see him shamed. Antigone’s close-mindedness of the situation led her to her final decision that she would bury her brother against the wishes of King Creon.

Creon exhibits this same close-mindedness as he believes every member of his society should follow the laws he sets down. For Creon, the complication stems from the fact that Antigone is going against his orders rather than her actual intent to bury her brother. Creon states, “I don’t care if she is my sister’s child- or closer yet at my household shrine for Zeus- she and her sister must pay the full price and die for their crime”(155). Creon has no sympathy for Antigone even though he is blood related to her. In his mind anyone who disobeys his orders should be put to death like any other criminal regardless of kinship. Creon is exhibiting his close-mindedness instead of being understanding to the fact that Antigone has loyalty for her brother and wants him to have a proper burial which was extremely important during this time period....
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