Antigone The Tragic Hero Essay Research Paper

Antigone The Tragic Hero Essay, Research Paper

There has always been a bit of confusion as to the tragic hero of the Greek

Drama Antigone. Many assume that simply because the play is named for Antigone,

that she is the tragic hero. However, evidence supports that Creon, and not

Antigone, is the tragic hero of the play. Examining the factors that create a

Greek Tragedy, and a tragic character, it is clear that the tragic hero is in

fact Creon. First, take into account the timeframe in which Antigone was

written. During the time of Sophocles, women were considered second class

citizens. They would not even be permitted to act in the drama Antigone. It

seems unlikely that Sophocles would choose a woman as the tragic hero of the

play. There are certain qualities that a character must posses in order to

qualify as a tragic hero. Ideally, the tragic hero is a person of some status,

usually king. Although the fact that Antigone was part of the royal lineage,

being a descendent of Oedipus, Creon?s position of King of Thebes suits a

tragic character much more effectively. Also, at the end of the play it is

customary for the tragic hero to have lost everything, to be reduced to nothing.

At the end of Antigone, Creon had lost his kingdom, his son, his wife, and his

will to live, but is doomed to live on in his pain. Antigone loses her life, but

it was not a loss in vain, for she did accomplish what she set out to do. It is

questionable as to whether Antigone was seeking martyrdom, but she certainly did

become one, dying for her beliefs. The most important characteristic of the

tragic hero is the tragic flaw, the one attribute that causes the inevitable

downfall of the character. It is argued that Antigone?s tragic flaw was

stubbornness. She is called stubborn in the play by Creon and also by the

chorus. Yet, some would call her steadfast, rather than stubborn. A stubborn

person would continue to argue even after he or she realized they were wrong.

For Antigone, no such realization was made. In her own eyes, the eyes of the

people, and even the eyes of the gods, Antigone was certainly in the right.

Creon, on the other hand, possessed a classic flaw, hubris, or excessive pride.

Because of his pride, Creon could not hear the sense spoken by his son, or the

blind prophet Teresius. He could not let Antigone go unpunished for her crime

for fear of looking weak to his kingdom. Thus his own bad decisions mixed with

fate caused his downfall. This is an exact description of a tragic hero.

Finally, the tragic hero of a Greek Drama realizes too late his bad decision.

This moment of realization, called anagnorisus, never occurred for Antigone, who

died righteously. However, Creon does realize his tragic flaw at the end of the

play, laments, and but for the good grace of the Chorogus, would have committed

suicide, (something tragic heroes are known to do). All things considered, Creon

must be the tragic hero of Antigone. He was the only character who met the

criteria. The other characters, like the messenger, or Teriseus, or Creon?s

son Haimon are minor characters and are clearly not the tragic heroes of the

play. Creon suffered the most, his losses were the greatest, and he was the only

character to posses a tragic flaw. It is safe to assume that the only reason for

Antigone ever being considered a tragic hero, is the misleading title of the



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