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Sophocles' Antigone Essay

1080 words - 4 pages

Thebian play of Antigone has excited many debates over the years. The most prevalent being who exactly could be characterized as the tragic hero in the story. The argument that Antigone is the hero is deffinatly a strong one. There are many critics who believe that Creon, however, is the true protagonist of the play. In order to determine whether or not Creon is the tragic hero one must first examine what a tragic hero is. Aristotle states that a hero is neither purely innocent nor purely malevolent. A hero is usually born into high rank of society, and this person must possess a tragic flaw. This flaw normally stems from either poor judgment or extreme arrogance. This flaw will inevitably contribute to the character's downfall.

As the play opens one becomes acquainted with King Creon as the head of his society. This in itself meets one of Aristotle's criteria for being a tragic hero, yet as one reads further into the play it becomes obvious that Creon possesses the tragic flaw of arrogance. He refuses to admit that he is wrong in his judgment over Antigone. When Creon refuses to yield with his order for Antigone to die he exemplifies his own tragic flaw. Creon refuses to admit he is wrong because he believes within himself that he is right. This weakness can be compared to Romeo, in the famous play by William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, who is impulsive and unyielding in his certitude. When Haemon comes to his father after hearing the news of Antigone's plight he pleads with Creon to be reasonable. Haemon compares Creon to trees in a flood. "You've seen trees by a raging winter torrent. How many sway with the flood and salvage every twig, but not the stubborn-they're ripped out." (Lines 797-799) Haemon wants his father to see that this ruling he has made is unwise and rash and yet Creon ignores his advice because he believes that what he has done is for the greater good of the kingdom, and therefore honors the gods of his people. Creon cannot afford to think of the well being of his son or even his niece Antigone, he must be selfless because that is what is honorable. Here it is shown that Creon is not absolutely malicious, he is thinking of his kingdom when he damns Antigone to certain death. He is also not entirely without fault; Creon is revealed to be a very arrogant man throughout the play. He does not admit his own mistake until the very end. Even then it is only after Tiresias tells him of the occurrences in the sanctuary that he sees his folly and tries to repent.

It is also written that a tragic hero has the power to affect one or more characters within the tragedy. Creon's kingly status, conveniently places him...

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