Sophocles was a master of tragedy, theres no argument there. But which of the 2 plays weve studied, Oedipus the King and Antigone, is the more tragic? I believe that Oedipus the King was more intensely tragic and I think that if I were to see a the plays back to back, Oedipus would be the more likely one to rivet true emotions from me. I think Oedipus cathartic value can be seen clearly when you compare the entirety of the results in both plays. In Antigone, she loses 2 brothers, and then a lover, and finally her life.
Oedipus loses his self-confidence, his true father, his true mother, his adoptive father, his wife, his integrity, his people, and his sight. When you weigh the two, Oedipus is obviously the more tragic, in this one area at least. Certainly one must see that Oedipus goes through a more cathartic tragedy than Antigone when one looks at the circumstances under which the tragedy falls as well. Antigone knew full well that what she was doing was wrong. She knew that if she buried er brother bad things would happen and she was ready and willing to die.
Oedipus on the other hand actually thought he was doing the city some good by searching out the killer of Laius. He thought everything was going to turn out just fine in the end, which makes his downfall that much worse. A point that also must be considered is hybris. Many people dont feel like they can relate to Oedipus because of his hybris, whereas Antigone is a very palpable sort of haracter, very down to earth and a peoples hero so to speak.
She is strong, and willing to die for her cause. The presentation of imagery in the plays also creates an argument in favor of Oedipus being the more tragic of the 2 plays. There is more dramatic irony in the way Oedipus is written, therefore making it more cathartic. Both of the plays tell a great tragic story about the human spirit and perseverance for a cause, but I feel that Oedipus is more tragic and emotionally purgative.