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Irony in Sophocles’ Antigone

Frank Jevons in “In Sophoclean Tragedy, Humans Create Their Own Fate” comments on Sophocles’ irony:

In this connection we may consider the “irony of Sophocles.” In argument irony has many forms That which best illustrates the irony of Sophocles is the method by which the ironical man, putting apparently innocent questions or suggestions, leads some person from one preposterous statement to another, until, perhaps, the subject of the irony realizes his situation and discovers that when he thought he was most brilliant of impressive, then he was really most absurd. . . .(62).

Let us explore the irony, in Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone, and see if we don’t conclude that, as it applies to King Creon it brings quite the same result as in Jevons’ stated situation.

In Sophocles: The Theban Plays E. F. Watling comments on Sophocles’ usage of dramatic irony in his dramas: “. . . that powerful and subtle weapon of ‘dramatic irony’ which Sophocles used with especial skill, whereby the audience can judge every speech and action of the play in the light of their previous knowledge of the situation” (12). M. H. Abrams defines dramatic irony as a situation wherein:

“the audience or reader shares with the author knowledge of present or future circumstances of which a character is ignorant; in that situation, the character unknowingly acts in a way we recognize to be grossly inappropriate to the actual circumstances, or expects the opposite of what we know that fate holds in store, or says something that anticipates the actual outcome, but not at all in the way that the character intends”(137).

This type of irony is commented on by Thomas Woodard in the Introduction to Sophocles: A Collection of Crit…

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…dings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997.

Segal, Charles Paul. “Sophocles’ Praise of Man and the Conflicts of the Antigone.” In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Sophocles. Antigone. Translated by R. C. Jebb. The Internet Classic Archive. no pag.

“Sophocles” In Literature of the Western World, edited by Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. NewYork: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1984.

Woodard, Thomas. Introduction. In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Watling, E. F.. Introduction. In Sophocles: The Theban Plays, translated by E. F. Watling. New York: Penguin Books, 1974.

Use of Humor in Erdrich’s Tracks

Use of Humor in Erdrich’s Tracks

An old adage claims that laughter is the best medicine to cure human ailments. Although this treatment might sound somewhat unorthodox, its value as a remedy can be traced back to ancient times when Hypocrites, in his medical treatise, stressed the importance of “a gay and cheerful mood on the part of the physician and patient fighting disease” (Bakhtin 67). Aristotle viewed laughter as man’s quintessential privilege: “Of all living creatures only man is endowed with laughter” (Bakhtin 68). In the Middle Ages, laughter was an integral part of folk culture. “Carnival festivities and the comic spectacles and ritual connected with them had an important place in the life of medieval man” (Bakhtin 5). During the trauma and devastation of German bombing raids on London during World War II, the stubborn resilience of British humor emerged to sustain the spirit of the people and the courage of the nation. To laugh, even in the face of death, is a compelling force in the human condition. Humor, then, has a profound impact on the way human beings experience life. In Louise Erdrich’s novel Tracks, humor provides powerful medicine as the Chippewa tribe struggles for their physical, spiritual, and cultural survival at the beginning of the twentieth century.

While the ability to approach life with a sense of humor is not unique to any one society, it is an intrinsic quality of Native American life. “There is, and always has been, humor among Indians . . . ” (Lincoln 22). In deference to their history, this can best be described as survival humor, one which “transcends the void, questions fatalism, and outlasts suffering” (Lincoln 45). Through their capacity to draw common…

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…emain the contrary powers of Indian humor” (Lincoln 5). For the Chippewa, this humor provides powerful medicine for the physical, cultural, and spiritual preservation of their tribe.

Works Cited

Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and His World. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1984.

Erdrich Louise. Tracks. New York: Harper Collins, 1988.

Ghezzi, Ridie Wilson. “Nanabush Stories from the Ojibwe.” Coming to Light. Ed. Brian Swann. 1st ed. New York: Random House, 1994.

Lincoln, Kenneth. Indi’n Humor. New York: Oxford UP, 1993.

Sergi, Jennifer. “Storytelling: Tradition and Preservation in Louise Erdrich’s Tracks.” World Literature Today 66 (Spring 1992): 279-282.

Towers, Margie. “Continuity and Connection: Characters in Louise Erdrich’s Fiction.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 16 (1992): 99-115.

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