In the classic model of dramatic structure, two characters move the action of the play from introduction to climax to resolution with their conflict. One of these characters is the protagonist; the other is the antagonist. The protagonist is generally regarded as the “good guy,” and the antagonist is the “bad guy.” In Sophocles’ play Antigone, the lines between protagonist and antagonist are blurred. In the Greek tradition, the title character is the protagonist, but in this play, the supposed antagonist Creon also displays characteristics of the protagonist.
Webster’s Dictionary defines protagonist as “one who takes the leading part in a drama; hence, one who takes lead in some great scene, enterprise, conflict, or the like.” At a cursory glance, Antigone seems to best fit this description. Her actions and the following consequences certainly form the plot of the play. She first decides to bury her dead brother in violation of Creon’s edict. When soldiers of Thebes unbury the body, she returns to bury it a second time. She is caught in the act and brought before Creon, who sentences her to die. She commits suicide in prison as a final attempt to thwart Creon’s plans. ontigone’s refusal to leave her brother’s body unburied even after she has buried it once reveals her stubborn streak, a common trait among protagonists. The fact that Creon is on his way to release her from jail when her dead body is discovered is yet another example of stubbornness. She will not give in to adversity or strife under any circumstances, which is both admirable and, in the case of Antigone, fatal.
Creon is portrayed as a strict leader who believes in adherence to his laws over those of the gods. He is not…
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…he plot, and Creon directs the consequences. Antigone has conflict with Creon the antagonist, and Creon has conflict with Antigone the antagonist. Antigone dies a tragic death because of her flaws, and Creon realizes his mistakes and suffers greatly because of his flaws. Both Creon and Antigone are protagonists. They are both main characters who are essential to the plot, and they both maintain the traditional role. Sophocles may not have intended audiences to see both characters as protagonists, but that is the logical conclusion. Now, if one were to ask for the real antagonist to come forward, one would most likely realize that the real antagonists were forward already.
Sophocles. Antigone. Trans. Robert Fagles. Literature and the Writing Process. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X. Day, and Robert Funk. 6th. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice, 2002.
lieshod White Lies in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
White Lies in Heart of Darkness
In his novella Heart of Darkness (1899), Joseph Conrad through his principal narrator, Marlow, reflects upon the evils of the human condition as he has experienced it in Africa and Europe. Seen from the perspective of Conrad’s nameless, objective persona, the evils that Marlow encountered on the expedition to the “heart of darkness,” Kurtz’s Inner Station on the banks of the snake-like Congo River, fall into two categories: the petty misdemeanors and trivial lies that are common- place, and the greater evils — the grotesque acts society attributes to madmen. That the first class of malefaction is connected to the second is illustrated in the downfall of the story’s secondary protagonist, the tragically deluded and hubristic Mr. Kurtz. The European idealist, believing the lies of his Company and of the economic imperialism that supports it, is unprepared for the test of character that the Congo imposes, and succumbs to the potential for the diabolical latent within every human consciousness.
Although numerous critics (including Johanna M. Smith, Peter Hyland, Herbert Klein, and Garrett Stewart) have drawn attention to how Marlow’s lie to the Intended informs the whole preceding text and how that culminating scene with the Intended is connected to Marlow’s initial impression of Brussels as a whited sepulchre (how appropriate in light of Belgian King Leopold II’s hypocritical defense of his private company’s rapacious exploitation of the ludicrously- named Congo Free State!), few have until recently focussed on how the lie affects the reader’s reaction to Marlow as the protagonist and narrator of Conrad’s Congo tale.
Answering questions which the dead man’s Intended poses him reg…
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Rosmarin, Adena. “Darkening the Reader: Reader- Response Criticism and Heart of Darkness .” Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism , ed. Ross C. Murfin. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989. Pp. 148-171.
Smith, Johanna M. Smith. “‘Too Beautiful Altogether’: Patriarchal Ideology in Heart of Darkness .” Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism , ed. Ross C. Murfin. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989. Pp. 179-198.
Stewart, Garrett. “Lying as Dying in Heart of Darkness .” PMLA 95 (1980): 319- 331.
Trilling, Lionel. ” Huckleberry Finn .” The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society . New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1950. Pp. 100-113.
Wright, Walter F. “Ingress to The Heart of Darkness .” Romance and Tragedy in Joseph Conrad . New York: Russell and Russell, 1966. Pp. 143-160.