The Nature of Tragedy in Antigone is Unique and Profound

It is hard to see how it could ever have been maintained, except by those whose minds were prejudiced by predetermined opinions regarding the proper functions of tragedy. The whole tone of the play is against it. Right from the beginning to the end the reader’s/spectator’s sympathies are enlisted on the side of Antigone and in favor of the belief that human law must give way to the divine promptings of the ethics.Midway through the play, the Chorus makes an appearance on the scene to announce that the tragedy has begun. His speech offers a meta-theatrical commentary on the nature of tragedy. Here, in an obvious reference to Jean Cocteau, tragedy emulates the workings of a machine in perfect order, blithe and automatic in function. The candid and desultory event sets it on its unalterable march: in some sense, it has been lying in wait for its medium. Tragedy belongs to an order outside human time and action. It will advocate itself in spite of its players’ agenda and their attempts at involvement. Many critics allude to the ambivalent nature of this suspense. As noted by the Chorus, in tragedy everything is in the past. The spectator has abdicated, masochistically, to an array of events it abhors to watch. Suspense, here, is the period before those events actual realization.Having compared tragedy to other media, the Chorus then sets it off circuitously, particularly in the mode of melodrama. The tragedy is manifest as docile, cogent and eminent, free of melodramatic stock characters, dialogues, and other confrontations. All these are exigencies and hence inevitable.