Tragic Hero In Sophocles Antigone
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ANTIGONE BY SOPHOCLES - ANIMATED PLAY SUMMARY
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Eteocles defended the city when his brother led an army against it. Because Eteocles had been governing Thebes when Polyneices killed him, Creon decreed that Eteocles should be buried with full honours, while Polyneices should not be buried at all. In Greek religious terms, this was the equivalent to burying someone outside of a churchyard: it meant their soul would not be accepted into the afterlife. This is the background to Antigone. Indeed, she argues that such an action amounts to blasphemy against the gods themselves.
As punishment for her defiance, Creon has Antigone imprisoned in a cave with just enough food to keep her alive but make her gradually weaker until she eventually starves to death. Yes, Creon has condemned his own would-be daughter-in-law to a horrible death! Haemon storms out, telling his father that he will never see him again. He resolves to bury the corpse of Polyneices and let Antigone go. At the end of the play, Creon is left standing over the bodies of his wife and son. Antigone raises a number of moral questions which remain as important to us now as they were when Sophocles wrote the play, almost two-and-a-half thousand years ago.
Should there be clear limits? What inalienable freedoms and rights are people afforded? Like many great works of art, Antigone is more complex than a plot summary can convey. For instance, the above summary paints Creon as a tyrannical ruler who drastically — and fatally — oversteps the limits of his power, with consequences both for others and, as is always the case in Greek tragedy, for himself. He has to live with his mistakes, having lost his wife and son because of his tyranny. Polyneices, after he fell out with Eteocles, had raised an army and marched on the city, with a view to seizing power and ruling the city. Would Polyneices have treated the people of Thebes well? By what right does a tyrant forbid a sister her right to bury her own brother?
As the play emerges, what transforms Creon into a tyrant rather than a judicious politician is his stubbornness, and his refusal to change tack even when all of the evidence points otherwise. If he had initially forbidden the burial of Polyneices because he wished to honour and protect the people he rules, he has now become their worst enemy. When his son entreats him to see sense, he refuses, and loses his son forever. Nevertheless, Antigone is one of the most significant female characters in ancient Greek tragedy, and this is one reason why the play has continually proved popular to new generations. The other is that although at first glance the play appears to be about a largely unfashionable clash between civil and religious law, it has endured, and continues to be relevant to modern readers and audiences, because it is really about honouring family in the face of inhumane and unjust — indeed, immoral — laws that forbid such a thing.
Image: via Wikimedia Commons. I teach this play to my AP juniors as part of the civil disobedience unit, then I follow it with F Plot Definition What is plot? Some additional key details about plot: The plot of a story explains not just what happens, but how and why the major events of the story take place. Plot is a key element of novels, plays, most works of nonfiction, and many though not all poems.
Since ancient times, writers have worked to create theories that can help categorize different types of plot structures. Plot Pronounciation Here's how to pronounce plot: plaht The Difference Between Plot and Story Perhaps the best way to say what a plot is would be to compare it to a story. The Structure of a Plot For nearly as long as there have been narratives with plots, there have been people who have tried to analyze and describe the structure of plots. Exposition is the first section of the plot. During the exposition, the audience is introduced to key background information, including characters and their relationships to one another, the setting or time and place of events, and any other relevant ideas, details, or historical context.
In a five-act play, the exposition typically occurs in the first act. The rising action begins with the "inciting incident" or "complication"—an event that creates a problem or conflict for the characters, setting in motion a series of increasingly significant events. Some critics describe the rising action as the most important part of the plot because the climax and outcome of the story would not take place if the events of the rising action did not occur. In a five-act play, the rising action usually takes place over the course of act two and perhaps part of act three. The climax of a plot is the story's central turning point, which the exposition and the rising action have all been leading up to.
The climax is the moment with the greatest tension or conflict. Though the climax is also sometimes called the crisis , it is not necessarily a negative event. In a tragedy , the climax will result in an unhappy ending; but in a comedy , the climax usually makes it clear that the story will have a happy ending. In a five-act play, the climax usually takes place at the end of the third act. Whereas the rising action is the series of events leading up to the climax, the falling action is the series of events that follow the climax, ending with the resolution, an event that indicates that the story is reaching its end.
In a five-act play, the falling action usually takes place over the course of the fourth act, ending with the resolution. Like Freytag's pyramid, Booker's meta-plot has five stages: The anticipation stage , in which the hero prepares to embark on adventure; The dream stage , in which the hero overcomes a series of minor challenges and gains a sense of confidence and invincibility; The frustration stage , in which the hero confronts the villain of the story; The nightmare stage , in which the hero fears they will be unable to overcome their enemy; The resolution , in which the hero finally triumphs.
Types of Plot In addition to analyzing the general structure of plots, many scholars and critics have attempted to describe the different types of plot that serve as the basis of most narratives. Booker's Seven Basic Plots Within the overarching structure of Booker's "meta-plot" as described above , Booker argues that plot types can be further subdivided into the following seven categories. Here's a closer look at each of the seven types: Comedy: In a comedy , characters face a series of increasingly absurd challenges, conflicts, and misunderstandings, culminating in a moment of revelation, when the confusion of the early part of the plot is resolved and the story ends happily. In romantic comedies, the early conflicts in the plot act as obstacles to a happy romantic relationship, but the conflicts are resolved and the plot ends with an orderly conclusion and often a wedding.
When the tragic hero becomes aware of his mistake this realization is called anagnorisis , his happy life is destroyed. This reversal of fate known as peripeteia leads to the plot's tragic ending and, frequently, the hero's death. Booker's tragic plot is based on Aristotle's theory of tragedy, which in turn was based on patterns in classical drama and epic poetry.
Antigone , Hamlet , and The Great Gatsby are all examples of tragedies. Through an act of love, another character helps the imprisoned character overcome the dark force, enchantment, or character flaw. Many stories of rebirth allude to Jesus Christ or other religious figures who sacrificed themselves for others and were resurrected. Overcoming the Monster: The hero sets out to fight an evil force and thereby protect their loved ones or their society. The "monster" could be literal or metaphorical: in ancient Greek mythology, Perseus battles the monster Medusa, but in the television show Good Girls Revolt , a group of women files a lawsuit in order to fight discriminatory policies in their workplace.
Both examples follow the "Overcoming the Monster" plot, as does the epic poem Beowulf. Rags-to-Riches : In a rags-to-riches plot, a disadvantaged person comes very close to gaining success and wealth, but then appears to lose everything, before they finally achieve the happy life they have always deserved. Cinderella and Oliver Twist are classic rags-to-riches stories; movies with rags-to-riches plots include Slumdog Millionaire and Joy. The Quest: In a quest story, a hero sets out to accomplish a specific task, aided by a group of friends. Often, though not always, the hero is looking for an object endowed with supernatural powers.
Along the way, the hero and their friends face challenges together, but the hero must complete the final stage of the quest alone. The Celtic myth of "The Fisher-King and the Holy Grail" is one of the oldest quest stories; Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a satire that follows the same plot structure; while Heart of Darkness plays with the model of a quest but has the quest end not with the discovery of a treasure or enlightenment but rather with emptiness and disillusionment. Voyage and Return: The hero goes on a literal journey to an unfamiliar place where they overcome a series of challenges, then return home with wisdom and experience that help them live a happier life. The Hero's Journey The Hero's Journey is an attempt to describe a narrative archetype , or a common plot type that has specific details and structure also known as a monomyth.
Below, we'll take a closer look at the 12 stages that Vogler outlines in his analysis of this plot type: The Ordinary World: When the story begins, the hero is a seemingly ordinary person living an ordinary life. This section of the story often includes expository details about the story's setting and the hero's background and personality. The Call to Adventure: Soon, the hero's ordinary life is interrupted when someone or something gives them an opportunity to go on a quest.
Often, the hero is asked to find something or someone, or to defeat a powerful enemy. The call to adventure sometimes, but not always, involves a supernatural event. The Refusal of the Call: Some heroes are initially reluctant to embark on their journey and instead attempt to continue living their ordinary life. When this refusal takes place, it is followed by another event that prompts the hero to accept the call to adventure Luke's aunt and uncle getting killed in Star Wars. Meeting the Mentor: The hero meets a mentor: a wiser, more experienced person who gives them advice and guidance. The mentor trains and protects the hero until the hero is ready to embark on the next phase of the journey. Crossing the Threshold: The hero "crosses the threshold" when they have left the familiar, ordinary world behind.
Some heroes are eager to enter a new and unfamiliar world, while others may be uncertain if they are making the right choice, but in either case, once the hero crosses the threshold, there is no way to turn back. Tests, Allies, and Enemies: As the hero continues on their journey, they face a series of increasingly difficult "tests" or challenges. Along the way, they acquire friends who help them overcome these challenges, and enemies who attempt to thwart their quest. The hero may defeat some enemies during this phase or find ways to keep them temporarily at bay.
These challenges help the reader develop a better a sense of the hero's strengths and weaknesses, and they help the hero become wiser and more experienced. This phase is part of the rising action. Approach to the Innermost Cave: At this stage, the hero prepares to face the greatest challenge of the journey, which lies within the "innermost cave. You can think of the approach to the innermost cave as a second threshold—a moment when the hero faces their doubts and fears and decides to continue on the quest.
The Ordeal: The ordeal is the greatest challenge that the hero faces. It may take the form of a battle or physically dangerous task, or it may represent a moral or personal crisis that threatens to destroy the hero. Earlier in the "Tests, Allies, and Enemies" phase , the hero might have overcome challenges with the help of friends, but the hero must face the ordeal alone. The outcome of the ordeal often determines the fate of the hero's loved ones, society, or the world itself.
In many stories, the ordeal involves a literal or metaphorical resurrection, in which the hero dies or has a near-death experience, and is reborn with new knowledge or abilities. This constitutes the climax of the story. Reward: After surviving the ordeal, the hero receives a reward of some kind. Depending on the story, it may come in the form of new wisdom and personal strengths, the love of a romantic interest, a supernatural power, or a physical prize. The hero takes the reward or rewards with them as they return to the ordinary world. The Road Back: The hero begins to make their way home, either by retracing their steps or with the aid of supernatural powers.
They may face a few minor challenges or setbacks along the way. This phase is part of the falling action. The Resurrection: The hero faces one final challenge in which they must use all of the powers and knowledge that they have gained throughout their journey. When the hero triumphs, their rebirth is completed and their new identity is affirmed. This phase is not present in all versions of the hero's journey. Return with the Elixir: The hero reenters the ordinary world, where they find that they have changed and perhaps their home has changed too.
Among the things they bring with them when they return is an "elixir," or something that will transform their ordinary life for the better. The elixir could be a literal potion or gift, or it may take the form of the hero's newfound perspective on life: the hero now possesses love, forgiveness, knowledge, or another quality that will help them build a better life. Other Genre-Specific Plots Apart from the plot types described above the "Hero's Journey" and Booker's seven basic plots , there are a couple common plot types worth mentioning.
Mystery : A story that centers around the solving of a baffling crime—especially a murder. The plot structure of a mystery can often be described using Freytag's pyramid i. In a typical story i. Bindungsroman : A story that shows a young protagonist's journey from childhood to adulthood or immaturity to maturity , with a focus on the trials and misfortunes that affect the character's growth. The term "coming-of-age novel" is sometimes used interchangeably with Bildungsroman. This is not necessarily incorrect—in most cases the terms can be used interchangeably—but Bildungsroman carries the connotation of a specific and well-defined literary tradition, which tends to follow certain genre-specific conventions for example, the main character often gets sent away from home, falls in love, and squanders their fortune.
The climax of the Bildungsroman typically coincides with the protagonist reaching maturity. Other Attempts to Classify Types of Plots In addition to Freytag, Booker, and Campbell, many other theorists and literary critics have created systems classifying different kinds of plot structures. Tobias, who wrote a book claiming there are 20 Master Plots Georges Polti, who argued there are in fact Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, who in the early twentieth century outlined seven types of plot And then there are the more atypical approaches to classifying the different types of plots: In , the University of Chicago rejected Kurt Vonnegut's college thesis, which claimed that folktales and fairy tales shared common structures, or "shapes," including "man in a hole," "boy gets girl" and "Cinderella.
Two recent studies, led by University of Nebraska professor Matthew Jockers and researchers at the University of Adelaide and the University of Vermont respectively, have used machine learning to analyze the plot structures and emotional ups-and-downs of stories. Both projects concluded that there are six types of stories. Criticism of Efforts to Categorize Plot Types Some critics argue that though archetypal plot structures can be useful tools for both writers and readers, we shouldn't rely on them too heavily when analyzing a work of literature.
Tolkien The plot of The Hobbit closely follows the structure of a typical hero's journey. The Ordinary World: At the beginning of The Hobbit , the story's hero, Bilbo Baggins, is living a comfortable life alongside his fellow hobbits in the Shire. Hobbits are short, human-like creatures predisposed to peaceful, domestic routines. The Call to Adventure: The wizard Gandalf arrives in the Shire with a band of 13 dwarves and asks Bilbo to go with them to Lonely Mountain in order to reclaim the dwarves' treasure, which has been stolen by the dragon Smaug.
The Refusal of the Call: At first, Bilbo refuses to join Gandalf and the dwarves, explaining that it isn't in a hobbit's nature to go on adventures. Meeting the Mentor: Gandalf, who serves as Bilbo's mentor throughout The Hobbit, persuades Bilbo to join the dwarves on their journey. Tests, Allies, and Enemies: Bilbo faces many challenges and trials on the way to the Lonely Mountain. Early in the trip, they are kidnapped by trolls and are rescued by Gandalf. Bilbo takes an elvish dagger from the trolls' supply of weapons that he uses throughout the rest of the journey. Soon Bilbo and the dwarves are captured by goblins, but they are rescued by Gandalf who also kills the Great Goblin.
Later, Bilbo finds a magical ring which becomes the focus of the Lord of the Rings books , and when the dwarves are captured later in the journey once by giant spiders and once by elves , Bilbo uses the ring and the dagger to rescue them. Approach to the Innermost Cave: Bilbo and the dwarves makes his way from Lake Town to the Lonely Mountain, where the dragon Smaug is guarding the dwarves' treasure.
Bilbo alone is brave enough to enter the Smaug's lair. Bilbo steals a cup from Smaug, and also learns that Smaug has a weak spot in his scaly armor. Enraged at Bilbo's theft, Smaug flies to Lake-Town and devastates it, but is killed by a human archer who learns of Smaug's weak spot from a bird that overheard Bilbo speaking of it. The Ordeal: After Smaug's death, elves and humans march to the Lonely Mountain to claim what they believe is their portion of the treasure as Smaug plundered from them, too.
The dwarves refuse to share the treasure and a battle seems evident, but Bilbo steals the most beautiful gem from the treasure and gives it to the humans and elves. The greedy dwarves banish Bilbo from their company. Meanwhile, an army of wargs magical wolves and goblins descend on the Lonely Mountain to take vengeance on the dwarves for the death of the Great Goblin. The dwarves, humans, and elves form an alliance to fight the wargs and goblins, and eventually triumph, though Bilbo is knocked unconscious for much of the battle. It might seem odd that Bilbo doesn't participate in the battle, but that fact also seems to suggest that the true ordeal of the novel was not the battle but rather Bilbo's moral choice to steal the gem and give it to the men and elves to counter the dwarves growing greed.
Reward: The victorious dwarves, humans, and elves share the treasure among themselves, and Bilbo receives a share of the treasure, which he takes home, along with the dagger and the ring. During that time they e-visit with some of the people they met on their journey out and have many adventures, though none are as difficult as those they undertook on the way to the Lonely Mountain. The Resurrection: Bilbo's return to the Shire as a changed person is underlined by the fact that he has been away so long, the other hobbits in the Shire believe that he has died and are preparing to sell his house and belongings.
Return with the Elixir: Bilbo returns to the shire with the ring, the dagger, and his treasure—enough to make him rich. He also has his memories of the adventure, which he turns into a book. Forster The Hobbit by J. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings by J. Check out this awesome video on the hero's journey from Ted-Ed. Why Tragedies Are Alluring : Learn more about Aristotle's tragic structure, ancient Greek and Shakespearean tragedy, and contemporary tragic plots.
The Wikipedia Page on Plot: A basic but helpful overview of plots. Cite This Page. Sign up. Literary Terms Related to Plot. See all Literary Terms Sign up! PDF downloads of all LitCharts literature guides, and of every new one we publish.