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The Tragic Hero In Sophocles´Antigone Essay

1300 words - 6 pages

In Greek tragedies, tragedians always establish a tragic hero who descends from grace due to a fatal flaw as well as someone who is of nobility. Moreover this character may also experience peripeteia, anagnorisis, and of course, a terrible ending (“Tragic Hero as Defined by Aristotle”). One Greek tragedy that involves a tragic hero is Sophocles’ Antigone which portrays two characters who strive for what they believe in, either state law or divine law, which leads to their demise. These two characters are King Creon and Antigone. The concept of who is the tragic hero in this tragedy is controversial due to the fact that Antigone dies but Creon lives with many deaths upon his shoulders. With the definition of a tragic hero in mind, King Creon is the tragic hero of this tragedy due to his status as a noble, his hubris as his flaw, and his experiences that include peripeteia, anagnorisis, and his tragic fate; on the other hand, Antigone only exhibits the status of a noble, tragic flaw, and the tragic fate of death.
To be a tragic hero, one must be of noble status and possess a tragic flaw. In Antigone, Creon and Antigone are both of noble status—Creon being a king and Antigone being the daughter of the late King Oedipus and Queen Jocasta. The second requirement to be a tragic hero consists of having a hamartia or tragic flaw. In Creon’s case, his hubris is his hamartia whereas for Antigone, her stubbornness and loyalty is her tragic flaw. In Antigone, both characters believe in two different laws—the state law or the divine law of the gods. Creon believed in the state law that those who betrayed the state should not be allowed to have a proper burial. On the other hand, Antigone believed in the divine laws of the gods that those who are dead should be allowed to have a proper burial. These two beliefs and their hamartias clashed when Antigone’s two brothers, Eteocles and Polyneices, fought against each other in battle and died. Creon decrees that Eteocles, who fought with the city, should be given a proper burial, whereas Polyneices, who fought against the city, should be prohibited a proper burial and instead, should rot. This decree was one of Creon’s major misjudgments because defying the gods’ laws was simply disrespectful, but to set a man-made law superior to the divine laws was widely mistaken. Creon’s hubris contributed greatly to his misjudgments because it made him believe that he cannot be wrong. He even believed that “The State is King!” (Sophocles et al. 1938, line 598) and therefore, he is always right which makes him inflexible and unyielding to Antigone’s fate of death. Similarly, Antigone’s hamartia is her stubbornness and headstrong loyalty to her family and the divine laws because without that, she would not have buried her dead brother, Polyneices. In the beginning conversation with Ismene, Antigone states “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...

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