Heroes come in many forms. Some such as immense in size and strength as Hercules, some in the form of people that are shunned upon, such as Harriet Tubman, and some that are only valorous heroes to some, such as Kurt Cobain. These heroes have many characteristics that make people flock to their side and follow them without a thought of hesitation. In Sophocles’ Antigone the hero is a women that believes in her heart far stronger than that of her leader’s rule. This brings up many characteristics that are shown within her that are also seen in other heroes. One being that she is up against an impossible enemy, one who does not fit well into society’s mold, and is destroyed by her own pride. For these characteristics Antigone is given the title of an epic Heroin.
Antigone is one of the lucky townsfolk to be born of a royal house, yet is unlucky to be born in the House that she is born into. As Antigone defies Creon’s law, she is cast into a pool of danger between what she believes is right and what the state’s law decrees is right. As Antigone is charged with the burying of her brother, an action which the King has declared unlawful, she holds like stone to her undying gratitude for her deceased brother. She holds to this thought because of the fact that she believes that her, who died fighting against the state, must be interred with the same honor as her brother who died defending the state. She believes that this will help lift the curse plagued on the household. The curse in which there father tried to hold at bay and failed. Her sister Ismene warned Antigone by exclaiming “Sister please, please! remember how our father die: hated, in disgrace, wrapped in horror of himself, his own hand stabbing out his sight. And how his mother-wife in one, twisted off her earthly days with a cord. And thirdly how our two brothers in a single day each achieved for each a suicidal Nemesis” (166).
This has already gave Antigone the mind set that even the Gods are against her will. She is also up against a great foe in fighting that of Creon’s edict. Ismene has said this: “The rest, if we defy our sovereign’s edict and his power. Remind ourselves that we are women, and such not made to fight with men. For might unfortunately is right and makes us bow to things like this and worse” (167). So as one would believe Antigone sees herself as not only on who can defy the power of the Gods but the power of the state. Thus she would be up against an force greater than her own.
Second, another characteristics of a tragic hero is that the person does not always fit into society’s mold. The tragic hero is usually one who wants change, yet also needs the peace that goes along with stability. The fact that the tragic hero also usually thinks that they are in there right mind when yet the rest of the society thinks that they are mad. Antigone has said “Say that I am mad, and madly let me risk the worst that I can suffer and the best” (168). this shows that although Antigone thinks she is doing is right, she also does not care how the other members of society deem her for her action. Antigone also must believe that she must be different from not only society but members of her family. Creon notes on this when he is asking her about his proclamation “O, she’s the man, not I, if she can walk away unscathed! I swear I hardly care if she be my sister’s child, or linked to me by blood more closely than any member of my hearth and home (181). This should also show one that Creon does not care about her nobility and that he will treat her just like one any other member of society.
Lastly, Antigone is inherently destroyed by the one thing that is her tragic flaw: excessive pride. This was also a downfall of her father Oedipus. This pride could also be confused with honor. Antigone not only defies Creon’s edict but also makes a mockery of it when he asks her about it. When asked if she knows the edict her exclamation is “Of course I knew. Was it not publicly proclaimed?” (179). This line clearly shows that Antigone has knows that she broke the edict and also is not shamed to admit it to the creator of the edict himself. She almost revels in telling Creon about it. Antigone also shows that she choose what to do not based on the law of the state but on the laws of the Gods. Antigone also embellishes her statement by telling Creon that he is a fool to judge her on what she has done. “I feel no twinges of regret. And if you think I am a fool, perhaps it is because a fool is judge” (180). If anything this clearly states that she has excessive pride for what she has done and will make sure that Creon knows this and her unfeigned gratitude for her dead brothers.
As one can tell the role of a tragic hero is one that Antigone plays well. Although she dies at the end of this play, Antigone feels no regret in what she has done. She also shows that she is proud of the fact that she never denied burying her brother. One would infer that although of her death, Antigone died for what she believed. This is the utmost characteristic in the portrait of a tragic hero.