Tragic Hero in Antigone

The play Antigone, written by Sophocles in 441 B. C. , presents a tragedy of characters whom suffer greatly, caused by a series of tragic flaws. Antigone, the main character of the play, seems to be the perfect character in the role of a tragic hero, in the light of the facts that she dies in doing what is right. However, in many ways it is debatable about whether or not the play is centrally based on Antigone’s tragedy, but rather Creon’s, the kind of Thebes. In this play, Creon presents himself as a protagonist and a tragic hero, who had a true epiphany.

He not only realizes and learns from his tragic flaws, but in the end bears tremendous sufferings and sorrow. It is clear that Creon’s hamartia was his pride, arrogance, and beliefs of a leader. His downfall began when he denied the burial of Polyneices and was firm when he condemned Antigone for her objection to his law. Creon represents the laws of the land and the divine ruler of society. He remains loyal in upholding his laws and trying to overpower the laws of the gods, until later when he realizes that the divine laws are stronger than his own.

His regard for the laws of the city cause him to abandon all other beliefs, moral or religious. This is showed when he says, “As long as I am King, no traitor is going to be honored with the loyal man. But whoever shows by word and deed that he is on the side of the State, – he shall have my respect while he is living, and my reverence when he is dead” (197). Creon is in a position of great power, influence, and responsibility. The extent of his power is quite clear when he sentenced Antigone to death for disobeying his order.

Antigone’s reasons for burying her brother were simply the fact that she was demonstrating her love, honor, and loyalty to her family. However, the reason Creon was furious was that he felt insulted that Antigone flagrantly and publicly disobeyed him. Because of Creon’s pride and stubbornness, he has lost everything important to him. In the end he realized that the gods were right, but it was too late then to correct his mistakes. His pain and loss could have all been avoided if he had done what Teiresias, the blind prophet in the play, advised him to do.

Instead, he put his pride first. His words to Teiresias were, “If your birds – if the great eagles of God himself should carry him stinking bit by bit to heaven, I would not yield. I am not afraid of pollution: No man can defile the gods” (232). In response, Teiresias gave him the judgments that will come upon him if he chooses not to listen to the words of the gods. He said, “The time is not far off when you shall pay back corpse for corpse, flesh of your own flesh” (234).

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