In the play Antigone by Sophocles,one could easily be lead to believe Antigone is the the tragic hero when in fact a strong case can be made that Creon, the king of Thebes, is actually the tragic hero. In believing that Creon is the tragic hero it would seem practical to call the play Creon rather than Antigone. On the other hand, naming the play Antigone gives the play a twist that leads the audience into a dynamically tragic journey through the lives of a prestigious royal family and it gives birth to thoughts of politics, religious beliefs, social roles and moral obligations.
A definition of a “tragic hero” is, “a great or virtuous character in a dramatic tragedy who is destined for downfall, suffering,or defeat.“tragic hero” (Dictionary.com). Another definition of a “tragic hero” and one that Creon fits best is “ a literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces brings on a tragedy” (Dictionary.com).
Creon was a virtuous character who believed after the war of Thebes, where both of his nephews, Eteocles and Polynecies, died at the hand of each other, that Polynecies was a traitor. He was the brother who decided to fight against Thebes. Creon, being the only male left in the royal family, took on the role of King without thinking of gaining the support of the people of Thebes first.
Creon believed that his role as King of Thebes meant being politically correct, and this took presidence over any religious beliefs, social roles and moral obligations. The first law Creon passed dealt with his nephew Polyneies who was considered a military traitor. In the play Antigone, Creon says regarding Polynecies and his dead body, “There's to be no laying to rest, no mourning, and the corpse is to be publicly dishonored. His body's to be dumped, disposed of like a carcass, left out for the birds to feed on. If you so much as throw him the common handful of clay you'll have committed a crime. This is the law and order in the land of good King Creon” (Heany,Seamus. Straus, Giroux. United States: 2005 print. The Burial At Thebes a version of Sophocles' Antigone), Creon's tragic flaw happens when Antigone, his niece, disobeyed his command by sprinkling dust on her brothers body to give him a proper burial. Antigone believed that the laws of the Gods was higher than the king's orders.
It is said in The Burial of Polynecies,that“Creon's fatal test comes when Antigone is set before him as the violator of his edict. He must choose between that edict and the life of his niece”(S.M. Adams The Classical Review. Vol. 45, No. 3; pp. 110-111).
Creon has three main behaviors that cause him to be the tragic hero. First he favors civic laws over the love of his family. Second, his pride overcomes his rational decision making process because he does not want to be defeated by a women, even his niece. According to Teaching politics using Antigone "creaon has the inability to learn how to gain...