Antigone Paper Essay, Research Paper
The Hubris of a Hero
The play Antigone by Sophocles is a play like no other. Its central theme is a practical problem of conduct involving the laws of the gods and those of the humans. Antigone represents the laws of the gods while Creon represents those of the humans. Both characters are very stubborn, neither of them willing to back down or compromise. Both sides are committed to their own reasoning and disinclined to listen to other points of view. Because of the hubris, or overweening pride, of each of the characters, destruction descends upon them. Antigone s destruction comes from her being to stubborn to back down, but Creon s downfall comes from attempting to be just and right by enforcing the law. Since Creon acted as he thought right and just, then suffered tragedy because of an error he made, he displays the image of a tragic hero.
Creon has assumed the throne and has the hard task of bringing a divided city together, which has lost three kings relatively fast. King Oedipus dies and his two heirs fight each other for the crown resulting in both of their deaths. Creon wants to make sure he becomes a respected and somewhat feared ruler so that he can keep everyone in line. One stubborn rebel who gets what their after could tear apart the kingdom.
Now, naturally, there is no way to tell the character and mettle of a man until you ve seen hem govern. Nevertheless, want to make it plain: I am the king of man who can t and never could abide the tongue-tied ruler who through fear backs away (198).
He does not want to begin his reign by issuing a decree and then rescinding it the moment a conflict arises.
Creon flawlessly fits Aristotle s image of a tragic hero. According to Aristotle, a hero is a man who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty. He must be one who is highly renowned and prosperous (Internet Book of Quotes).
Creon is obviously not entirely good or just, and he does make mistakes, however the mistakes he made are simply an error of judgment, and completely understandable. His greatest error was that he truly believed that Polynices was a traitor, which consequently forced him to issue a decree forbidding Polynices a proper burial.
But his brother Polyneices, he who came from exile breathing fire. The man who came all thirsting for his country s blood to drag the rest of us away as slaves- I ve sent the edict out that none shall bury him or even mourn . You ll not catch me putting traitors up on pedestals beside the loyal and true. (199)
He carries through the decree not out of anger or spite, but instead to protect his country. Creon is of the belief that laws are necessary to retain order even if it means going against one s family. “And I find intolerable the man who puts his country second to his friends Never could I make my country s enemy my private friend (199). Even though Antigone is soon to be part of his inner family, ruling with an iron hand is a priority. Creon is the king, and the laws that he makes are meant to be obeyed. This doesn t mean that the laws are right but they need to be followed until they are discussed and then changed.
As a hero, Creon suffers many tragic downfalls. Unlike Antigone, who got what she wanted, death as a martyr for moral laws and family ties, Creon losses all that he lived for. Where hope for help, when everything I touch is lost and death has leapt upon my life? (252). Haemon, Creon’s son, stabs at the king, misses, then proceeds to commit suicide over the death of Creon’s future daughter in law. His wife after hearing of her second son s death curses Creon for the murder of both her sons which he ignorantly played part in. Creon also, most naturally, lost respect in the eyes of the gods and in the eyes of the populace of Thebes.
After the death of his wife Creon acknowledges his great mistake in being prideful and realizes how his pride caused suffering.
Then lead me please away, a rash weak foolish man, a man of sorrows, who killed you, son, so blindly, and you my wife-so blind. (252)
Creon displays a perfect example of a tragic hero is in this play. He blunders and pays drastically for his frailty, but in the end he realizes this and accepts the guilt and responsibility for his actions. By tragically losing all, one is forced to feel sympathy toward him, and for always doing what he thought was right, and what he thought would further and protect his kingdom, he is regarded as hero. These elements combined brand him a true ancient Greek tragic hero.