Focusing on the Prophecies: we see that the characters, up until Polyneices, always believe they can overcome fate. Polyneices, on the other hand, accepts his fate because he does not want to be a coward. He in fact knowingly leads six men to their deaths, while the warriors(except him) are unaware. Maybe this was an instance of him trying to overcome fate, maybe he didn’t believe his father was a prophet. “That is what he wants.”(pp.142,line 1631).(suggesting his father can’t actually curse him)
I believe he understood the meat-hook realities that lay await and still decided to go through with leading his men to slaughter in the name of arrogance and pride.”I will not tell bad news. That is good generalship– to tell one’s strengths and not one’s weaknesses.”(pp. 142, lines 1634-5). Is the throne of Thebes worth his life and six other men? We know Polyneices believed so, I sincerely doubt, however, his men felt the same way, and he knew it. “If die I must, I’ll die”(pp. 143, line 1650). In these exchanges, Antigone is the voice of reason, she tells Polyneices ‘look, dad has been right before and I know you don’t want to admit it, but he’s probably right now too.’ Polyneices is so overcome with hate and a feeling of entitlement to the throne he willfully goes off to be killed and kill his brother, as was foretold by his father.
I think this is a very interesting problem, how many times have you wanted something so badly you failed to listen to reason? This is perhaps not a tragedy in the sense that it is a fundamental shortcoming of man, maybe it is though. From an objective perspective, it is easy to say that Polyneices is being stupid, but most people at some point in life will fail to listen to a voice of reason. It does not mean that this will inevitably lead to their demise, but it might. Think about smoking, or drinking and driving, or drugs, or war. There will always be people to say these things are bad and that eventually they will lead to death, none of them will certainly lead to death however. People don’t want to listen to reason, and there is something counter-intuitive in this, this may be considered a tragedy.
In this case, the voice of reason is Antigone, she pleads with her brother to let it go, but he will not be deterred. In the end, we know(as Dr.Maloney told us) the seven warriors do in fact get slaughtered. Brother kills brother, it was Polyneices who knowingly led his men to their deaths because he didn’t want to be considered a coward. Do you think ignoring reason is a tragedy, or can it also have great benefits as well? A risk is a risk because there is an obvious margin for failure, but at the same time there is a chance for success as well. Think back to when you were in junior high and adults of all sorts, (parents, teachers, coaches, etc.) were telling you how to succeed in life(work hard, get good grades, no drugs/alcohol/sex, etc.). Did you commit yourself to everything they told you? Or, at some point did you willfully decide to neglect the voice of reason? There are benefits and costs to every decision one makes, and in the end it is up to an individual to determine his/her fate. Sometimes people change their lives for the better because they do stupid things, so in the end, those stupid things were good. One of my favorite quotes is as follows: “Good judgement comes from experience, many times experience comes from bad judgement.”