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Antigone’s Tragic Hero

This analysis is to determine the character that fits the tragic hero profile;
it was completely based according to the Aristotelian idea of tragic hero and it
is understood that hero is: neither purely evil or purely wicked; the hero
must born in the high social status, and he/she must possess a tragic flaw which
is proper from the inner side of the character; it usually manifests in the form
of poor judgment and or arrogance, condemning him/herself into a catastrophic
finality and in the meanwhile, establishes other characters destiny (Eschbach
02/17,). Either Antigone or Creon is situated in the highest level of the social

Creon became the king of Thebes, after his two nephews killed each
other over the throne; Antigone (Creons niece), was an orphan who happened to
be Creons future daughter in law. Both presented moral values, differing
exclusively on the situation they were applied. Creons actions towards the
people reflected honesty and equal treatment upon the laws he made. Antigones
actions towards the burial of her brother (although he fought against his
country, she taught that he deserved to be buried), reflected fidelity and
respect upon the religious tradition and the gods laws. However, both
presented hubris, which made either one wrong.; Creon would not accept
anybodys disobedience against his laws, and Antigone, on the other hand,
would not give up on her brothers burial. In this case, Creon is wrong
because he does not have the right to choose the person that could be buried;
his laws could not intervene the gods laws. Antigone is just as wrong as

By disobeying the mens laws, she automatically disobeyed the gods
laws as well. After a profound analysis of the tragedy, I strongly think that
Antigone is not able to be a tragic heroine. Although she encounters the high
status of the social hierarchy, her hubris, her moral values and philosophy of
living, she is not as adequate as Creon is in Aristotles profile. Antigone
possesses all moral values to be, somewhat, a heroine (not a tragic one); she is
an eminent example of someone who did what she thought it was right to do (Polynieces
burial), and while she was among danger, obstacles and people who were cowards
(Chorus), she obeys the laws of the gods and is careless about the mortal
laws penalty, her own death.

She explains to her sister that her reward after
death would reflect on her nobility and values while she was alive. So, do as
you [Ismene] like, whatever suits you best I will bury him myself. And even if I
die in the act, that death will be a glory (Sophocles 1045). She also admits
that her departure from the mortals world would help her escape her miserable
life (referring to her family loss). She is just too perfect to be a tragic
hero; she only does what is right, and her death is not seen as a tragedy and
yet, a benefit. What are left on my thoughts are the reasons that make Creon
more tragic than Antigone.

Is it relevant to analyze which of the characters
suffered more to realize right from wrong? Which one basically lost almost
everyone in the family due to arrogance, stubbornness and pride? Creon is the
only one considered the tragic hero because he comes from the highest level of
the social status; he is neither perfect or ultimate evil
(http://www.md-1.com/ib/tragichero.html), he is stubborn, and he also reflects a
personality full of pride. By being the king of Thebes, he is in a position of
great power, nobility, responsibility, and influence. He occupies some sense of
morality and also states nobility by defending and protecting his city over
everything he encounters opposing his rules. He is very clear when he says
These are my principles.

Never at my hands will the traitor be honored above
the patriot (Sophocles 1048). Creon is a very fair and excellent ruler; he
punishes the wrong and rewards the good. But whoever proves his loyalty to
the state Ill prize that man in death as well as life (Sophocles 1048). On
the other hand, the character is not perfect. His choice of punishment, refusing
and demanding that nobody is allowed to bury Polynieces body does not achieve
his moral values, and yet he dishonors the gods laws. These actions are how
hubris and self-indulgence are manifested, and consequently what turns Creon
imperfect (tragic flaw); he emphasizes his power and equates himself with the
gods by stating that he can take lives away as he wants: But whoever proves
his loyalty to the state, Ill prize that man in death as well as life (Sophocles

Creons main tragic flaw is hubris or his pride, and his arrogance in
the face of the immortals; he committed the mistake since the beginning of the
tragedy by denying the fundamental divine right of Polynices burial. In
addition to it, he also is strict and certain of Antigones condemnation for
her opposition against his law, but he was the only one who was against
the divine law. Antigones reasons for burying her brother were strictly to
demonstrate love, loyalty, honor, and respect for her family and for her brother
to be accepted in the gods land. However, the main reason that Creon is
angered is not the fact that Polynieces fought against his city, and yet the
insult and betrayal of his own niece, especially by being a female figure who
disobeyed him in public; it is even worse because she is his sons (Haemon)
fianc, and, therefore, his ego is quite damaged. Go down below and love, if
love you must  love the dead! While Im alive, / no woman is going to lord
it over me (Sophocles 1057).

The type of punishment given to Antigone was
very severe and cowardly, in contrast to the main reason that caused it. Why
would he lock Antigone up and starve her to death when he could have her killed
in an effective and quick way? He did that to make it very clear to everyone
that he is the only one who possesses power and would reach the lowest moral
level to anyone who would dare to be against his rules: I will take her down
some wild, desolate path never trod by men, and wall her alive in a rocky vault,
and set out short rations, just the measure piety demands /to keep the entire
city free of defilement (Sophocles 1064). Creon demonstrates arrogance,
egocentrism, and he contradicts himself. A good example of it is the argument he
has with his son. Haemon says that the entire population of Thebes disagrees
with Creons punishment for Antigone, but he certainly says: And is Thebes
about to tell me how to rule?  Am I to rule this land for others-or myself?

The city is the kings- thats the law! (Sophocles 1063). This could
be interpreted as how can inferior people tell him what to do? In this
situation, Creon contradicts himself because at the beginning he said that he
would do what his people want him to do, and then eventually he says exactly the
opposite of what he said in the first place. Eventhough after Tiresias
advice you have no business with the dead, nor do the gods above- this is
violence you have forced upon the heavens. And so the avengers, the dark
destroyers late but true to the mark, now lie in wait for you, the Furies sent
by the gods and the god by the death to strike you down with the pains that you
perfected! (Sophocles 1072), the king remained blind by his pride. This
dialogue, which Creon has with Tiresias reminds the one his brother, Oedipus
He once had to face the truth told by Tiresias but he was also blinded by his
hubris (Eschbach 02/15).

They were both stubborn and blinded by their pride;
at the first place, they also would not listen to Tiresias, a prophet who has
always told everyone the truth. And as it was told in the previous tragedy,
the curse over Oedipus family would prevail with the continuation of his
family (Taylor), so his sons and daughters were included in the curse and
therefore, their story would end up in tragedy. With his personality, Creon,
just happened to be the black sheep on that occasion, and so he suffered
just as his brother did. Oh Ive learned through blood and tears! Then it
was then, when the god came down and struck me-a great weight shattering,
driving me down that wild savage path, ruining, trampling down my joy. Oh the
agony, the heartbreaking agonies of our lives (Sophocles 1077). Creon finally
realizes that his hubris was causing catastrophes among the ones he loved. He
overlooked the situation and kept in mind what Tiresias had said; he became
rational. Now Im on my way! Come each of you, take up axes, make for
the high ground, over there, quickly! I and my better judgment have come round
to this- I shackled her, Ill set her free myself. I am afraid it is best
to keep the established laws to the very day we dieand the guilt is all mine
(Sophocles 1078).

He now knows that the immortal laws cannot be broken by anyone
who resides in the mortal world, thus the one who dares to break them would have
to assume the responsibility of the consequences. Take me away, I beg you,
out of sight. A rash, indiscriminate fool! I murdered you, my son, against my
will you too, my wifeWailing wreck of a man whom to look to? Where to lean
for support? (Sophocles 1079). Unfortunately, it was too late when he became
rational: Antigone committed suicide due to Polynices burial mandate, Haemon
died by threading himself with a sword, and Eurydice (his wife), killed herself
as soon as she found out her son was dead. She stabbed herself at the
altar [because he] killed her son (Sophocles 1078). In spite of his
hubris and actions, he did not only kill his son and wife, but everyone in
Thebes disliked him, and as a consequence, he ended up living with regret and
lonely for the rest of his life.

According to Aristotle, I defend my opinion
that Creon is the only tragic hero by just analyzing his main tragic flaw:
hubris, the essential reason to start a riot among his kingdom; his late
realization of wrong things he has caused and, his reprimand from the immortals
was even worse than his punishment; he had to live in sorrow for the rest of his
life. On parallel, Antigone was just a perfect mortal, who has done everything
for the gods will, and besides her suicide she certainly left with no
considerable sins from the world she lived. Once she committed suicide, there
was no more pain and agony.

Eschbach, Elizabeth. Lecture. Oedipus at Colonus. Orlando. Valencia
Community College. 15 Feb. 2000. Eschbach, Elizabeth. Lecture. Antigone.
Orlando. Valencia Community College. 17 Feb. 2000. Sophocles. Antigone. Trans.
Robert Fagles. Discovering Literature: Stories, Poems, Plays. 2 ed. Gabriele
L.Rico and Hans P. Guth. Upper Sadde River, NJ: Blair Press, 1997. (1042-1079).
Taylor, Don. Antigone. Videocassette. Film for the Humanities, 1988 Unknown.
Aristotles Tragic Hero. 16 Feb. 2000. < http://www.md-1.com/ib/tragichero.html

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