In the plays Oedipus Rex and Antigone by Sophocles the hubris or pride destroyed Oedipus and his family. The hubris sets up the situational irony in the play. During the play the reader knows what Oedipus did, but Oedipus doesn’t realize what he had done till the end of the play. The situational irony in the plays is the reader knows the true story about the characters but the pride in the characters did not allow them to see the truth.
Unknown to Oedipus, but known to the reader of the play Oedipus Rex, Oedipus killed his father Laius and was sleeping with his mother Jocasta. The play takes place about fifteen years after Oedipus was crowned King of Thebes. Oedipus fathered four children with Jocasta. The town is plagued because the murderer of Laius had not been punished. Oedipus cursed the murderer unbeknownst that it was himself. He declared, “I pray that man’s life be consumed in evil and wretchedness” (32).
He continued by stating, “And as for me, this curse applies no less” (33) but because of the hubris it didn’t cross his mind that he was the murderer.
The irony in the play was obvious at this point because the reader knew Oedipus was cursing himself. The reader also knew Oedipus fathered four children with his mother and incest is one of the worst crimes in Greek culture. Despite knowing that Oedipus was the murderer he sent for a blind prophet, Teiresias. Teiresias is a very smart man; he knew Oedipus would become upset if he told Oedipus the truth. Teiresias denies Oedipus the whole story, however, after many threats from Oedipus, Teiresias told Oedipus that it was Oedipus who killed Laius. Oedipus became enraged he had no skepticism that he did not kill Laius. Oedipus swore Teiresias was trying to blame him to dethrone him.
Oedipus as a Tragedy by Aristotle's Definition A tragedy by definition is 'a drama which recounts an important and casually related series of events in the life of a person of significance, such events culminating in an unhappy catastrophe, the whole treated with great dignity and seriousness'; . The Greek tragedies are plays based on myths which were well known and enjoyed by audiences. Most of ...
By this time Jocasta knew Oedipus was the killer. She told Oedipus to forget about the whole thing but Oedipus, the amazing man who can solve any riddle, demands the murderer sought out. The reader sees where Oedipus is heading. Oedipus was seeking his own fate but Oedipus did not know what he was doing because he knew he was not the criminal. Finally, a shepherd came to the palace.
The shepherd told Oedipus what he knew about Oedipus’ childhood and it all began to fit together for Oedipus. The reader wonders what Oedipus will do next, is he going to kill himself? Oedipus runs to find Jocasta, but she had already hanger herself. He pulls her shoulder pins out and gouges his own eyes because he does not want to see anymore. His own hubris blinded him from the truth and he can no longer bear it. The situational irony was Oedipus thinking he was great and mighty when really he was a disgrace to society.
For the play Antigone the readers must understand some background of Oedipus’ two sons, Eteocles and Polyneices. After Oedipus realized that he was the murderer of his father he left Thebes with his two sons as a nomad. Once Eteocles and Polyneices grew older grew older they came back to rule Thebes with a plan to take turns ruling. However, the hubris that they had inherited from their father took over. When it was Polyneices’ turn Eteocles would not give up the throne. Polyneices then became king of a neighboring city and the two brothers fought each other. Eventually they both were slain but Eteocles’ troops won the war and Creon took over the ruling of Eteocles. Creon then ordered:
“Eteocles, who died as a man should die, fighting for his country, is to be buried with full military honors, with all the ceremony that is usual when the greatest heroes die; but his bother Polyneices, who broke his exile to come back with fire and sword against his native city and the shrines of his fathers’ gods, whose one idea was to spill the blood of his blood and sell his own people into slavery—Polyneices, I say, is to have no burial; no man is to touch him or say the least prayer for him; he shall lie on the plain, unburied; and the birds and the scavenging dogs can do with him whatever they like” (28-35).
Hamartia with respect to Oedipus in the play Oedipus Rex. The tragedy must not be a spectacle of a virtuous man brought from prosperity to adversity: for this moves neither pity nor fear; it merely shocks us; nor again, that of a bad man passing from adversity to prosperity…It must concern a man who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but ...
No one was to give Polyneices a proper burial. The irony in the play was Creon’s thoughts of not burying Polyneices because he was the enemy. Creon does not see that he is letting one of his own nephews rot in the sun. The reader wonders what point Creon is trying to make.
However, Antigone could not bear that her own brother be left unburied. The next morning a Sentry ran to Creon and told him “New dust on the slimy flesh!” (67).
He rambled on and stated “not buried really, but as if they’d covered it just enough for the ghost’s peace” (79).
Antigone had secretly buried Polyneices just enough to satisfy herself. Creon demanded he knew who had done such an act. Meanwhile, the reader is wondering why Creon is so obsessed with torturing Polyneices besides the fact that Creon is too proud to admit his mistake.
Even though Polyneices was a traitor he is still family. Creon insists that Antigone should be killed. During the end of the play the reader starts to see Creon’s fate. However, Creon has too much pride to notice how far he has taken the matter. Finally, “Creon is able to make the great step of reversing his position and swallowing his pride” (Classic Note) by agreeing to bury Polyneices. But it was too late, Antigone had hanged herself in the cave where she was sent for her punishment. Haimon, Creon’s son and fiancé of Antigone, became upset, attempted to kill Creon only to fail and committing suicide himself. The reader saw these events coming early in the play when Creon, with his hubris, forbad anyone to bury Polyneices.
The situational irony in these two plays makes the plays interesting. Sophocles sets up the characters with a sarcastic personality that allows him create a story in which the characters could not see what they were creating for themselves. Once the characters saw what they had done wrong they were terrified and did not want to continue with life. The hubris was perfect for these characters in the play because the characters did not see what was wrong with their lives but the reader did and knew the whole time.
Justice is a word we hear today all the time. Left and right we hear of judges and citizens demanding justice. Is justice always the right way? It seems that justice is not always the correct solution to a problem, but a solution that is the easiest to make. The classic play Antigone is a perfect example of this. Antigone is classic tragedy at its finest. A simple civilized and humane right of ...