In Greek literature, a tragic hero is based upon an individual having several of the following qualities: having a high social position in society; not being overly good or bad; being persistant or stubborn in their actions; having a single flaw that brings about their own death and the death of others; and obtaining pity from the audience.
Antigone was a prime example of a Greek tragic hero. Antigone, being the daughter of Oedipus, obtained a high social standing in Thebes. Prior to his self-exile from Thebes, Oedipus was the city's king. Because of her high standing in society, Antigone was capable of great suffering, in that she had a reputation and a vast amount of respect to lose.
Antigone's good side is demonstrated by her insistance on respecting her brother Polyneices' right to be buried in the religious tradition of Greece. The Greeks believed that it was of most importance to bury a person who died in battle so that their soul may continue on in the after life. Antigone is willing to risk her own life so that Polyneices can have to proper burial that she so strongly feels he deserved; "but I will bury him: and if I must die, I say that this crime is holy: I shall lie down with him in death, and I shall be dear to him as he to me." (Prologue, line 57-59)
Having a fatal flaw is one of the characteristics of a Greek tragic hero. Antigone's fatal flaw is her rash and headstrong behavior. "Like father, like daughter: both headstrong, deaf to reason!" (Ode I, Scene II, line 85) Her headstrong behaviour is displayed twice in the play. The first such display is her decision to take matters into her own hands and bury her brother Polyneices. Creon finds out about the burial and in order to have credibilty with the citizens of Thebes he must follow through with the punishment as set forth in his proclamation. Antigone and her sister Ismene are placed in a cave and heavily guarded. They faced "stoning to death in the public square." (Prologue, line 25). Antigone's second display of headstrong behavior is when she decides to kill herself in the cave, therefore robbing Creon of the satisfaction of completing this deed.
All of Thebes sympathizes with Antigone because not only has she lost her mother, father, and two brothers, but also her one act,...