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Sophocles' Great Tragedies: Oedipus And Antigone

1652 words - 7 pages

Sophocles, one the most famous ancient Greek playwrights, composed two Greek tragedies that have survived to today. Oedipus the King and Antigone are Sophocles’ most well-known dramas. These two plays emphasize the catastrophic events that take place following a series of incidents and decisions. Throughout the two plays the audience is continuously uncovering details that will eventually lead to the downfall of the main characters. By comparing the two plays, one can identify similar aspects of the plays that would eventually lead to the characters downfalls. The ancient Greek tragedies, Oedipus the King and Antigone, reveal subtle similarities in which one can compare the two on a deeper level.
Early in the Greek dramas, the audience is exposed to the main characters and their objectives throughout the play. Although one may believe a Greek tragedy involves only negative aspects, both Oedipus and Antigone begin their story with good intentions. In Oedipus the King, Oedipus is told of two prophecies. The first prophecy is that he will kill his own father and the second is that he will marry his mother. Upon hearing these prophecies, he leaves Corinth to prevent them from occurring. By believing that Polybos and Merope are truly his parents, Oedipus believes that by leaving them the prophecy will be prevented. Oedipus’ original intention was to avoid hurting his parents through murder and incest, when in fact the prophecy eventually came true in regards to his biological parents. Another good intention that is displayed at the beginning of Oedipus the King is Oedipus’ revenge. Oedipus proclaims that he will resolve the mystery of the murder of Laios, the previous king of Thebes and Oedipus’ biological father. By doing so Oedipus hopes to give closure to the Thebians as well as avenge Laios’ death. His good intentions eventually lead to finding out that he is the true killer of Laios and that the prophecy had come true. In Antigone, good intentions are also displayed at the beginning of the play. Antigone wanted to honor the death of her brother by burying his body despite the fact that it is prohibited by King Creon. Antigone sticks to her morals and eventually buries her brother, Polynices. Antigone displays initiative and defiance towards the law by going to bury her brother. This act gives the audience a sense of moral satisfaction. Antigone’s good intentions suggest to the audience that she is not bad character in the play. Both dramas reveal good intentions in the beginning, however, these events lead to a major downfall for the characters. Antigone and Oedipus the King are similar in this way in which they both contain genuine characters.
Oedipus the King and Antigone also share common themes. One recurring theme in both plays is that authority is continuously defied. In Oedipus the King, Jocasta, Oedipus’ mother and wife, tries to evade fate as well as defy the Gods authority. When she receives notion that her son will grow up to kill...

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