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Empathy for Characters in Sophocle's Antigone

Uploaded by Admin on Aug 09, 2000

Sophocle's tragic play Antigone, written in 441 BC, is a theatrical piece of drama in which an audience is compelled to empathize with its character's. When empathizing with characters in Antigone the audience can, in imaginative and cognitive ways, participate in the understanding of a character's feelings, ideas as well as their situations. Antigone, Creon and Ismene all struggle with decisions that concern the laws of their city and the cosmic law of religion and moral judgement. Characters such as Haemon and Eurydice ultimately show the consequences of the decision formed by the two protagonists. Amongst the audience, empathy is created for both; characters faced with agonizing decisions and characters inflicted with tormenting consequences. The levels of empathy felt for each character changes as the story develops and as different qualities are revealed about each character. The amount of empathy felt for a character effects not only the reading of that character but also the meaning of the play.

The first scene of the play involves Antigone asking her sister to go against the laws of the state to help her give the proper burial rites to their brother Polynices. In the first scene there is an immediate sense of empathy felt towards Antigone as she express her feelings of misfortune to Ismene.
'My own flesh and blood - dear sister, dear Ismene,
how many griefs our father Oedipus handed down!
Do you know one, I ask you, one grief
that Zeus will not perfect for the two of us… (p59)
By introducing Antigone to the audience as the daughter of the Oedipus the empathy felt toward the tragic hero Oedipus is somewhat inherited by Antigone. The audience reflects on the hardships that the incestuous family of Oedipus have already endured and realizes that the wretched fate of Oedipus is still bringing grief in to Antigone's life. This immediately gives the audience an insight into Antiogne's personal feelings and gives the audience the opportunity to feel empathy for the pain that plagues her life simply because she was born as the daughter of an ill-fated man. Because the audience has been put into a position where they feel empathy for Antigone her character is read with a sympathetic understanding, allowing any of her actions to be considered rational in her situation.

Despite the immediate empathy felt toward Antigone because of the connection between herself and Oedipus, the audience is obliged to feel empathy for Antigone because her...

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Uploaded by:   Admin

Date:   08/09/2000

Category:   Antigone

Length:   10 pages (2,204 words)

Views:   2419

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