In the awe-inspiring play of Antigone, Sophocles introduces two remarkable characters, Antigone and Creon. A conflict between these two obstinate characters leads to fatal consequences for themselves and their kindred. The firm stances of Creon and Antigone stem from two great imperatives: his loyalty to the state and her dedication to her family, her religion but most of all her conscience. The identity of the tragic hero of this play is still heavily debated. This tragedy could have been prevented if it had not been for Creon’s pitiful mistakes.
Creon’s character possesses an infinite number of glitches in his personality, but his excessive pride was the root of his problems. His pride leads him to make accusations, before he considers the wise advice of others. Creon’s pride also fills him not just as a king superior to the Gods, but also a man superior to women. The issue of Antigone being condemned to die becomes more than just a person who disobeys Creon; instead, the punishment is given even more eagerly, because it is a woman who disobeys a man.
Creon’s intelligent son warns Creon the people of Thebes sympathize with Antigone, but Creon accuses Haemon of being a “woman’s slave” (line 756). Even though he is suppose to be loyal to the state and her citizens, he defensively questions if “the town [is] to tell [him] how [he] ought to rule? “(Line 734)The Theban king is too prideful to obey even the wisest of prophets, blind Teresias, insisting that “the whole crew of seers are money-mad” (line 1055). Creon finally puts his pride aside and listens to the Chorus’ wise advice.
It is difficult even then, and he obeys only because he fears the punishment that he might receive. “To yield [for Creon] is terrible” (line 1095) meaning to swallow his pride and admit that he is wrong is a very difficult thing for him to do. When Creon loses his wife and son, Creon’s pride disappears, and he admits that he made a terrible mistake by not listening to anyone’s advice. Antigone, a resolute and heroic female protagonist, pits her individual free will against the intractable forces of fate and against the irrational and unjust laws of tyrannical man like Creon.
Antigone lives during an era when women are considered merely vassals. She is determined to give her brother, Polyneices, a decent burial. Dedicated to “[serving] the children of her mother’s womb” (line 512), she consciously risks her life with this action, which violates Creon’s unjust decree. She reveres the divine unwritten laws of the Gods rather than the laws created by “a mortal man” (line 455). Ismene, Antigone’s cowardly sister, urges Antigone not to “fight with men” (line 62). Ismene believes that women should always follow whatever men want to do because women are powerless to stop them.
Women have no place in Theban society except to be commanded by men. Simply, men rule and women are ruled. Most women reacted to events reacted to events not cause them like Antigone. Ismene and Antigone are as different as wool and iron. One is pliable, absorbent, and soft while the other is hard and resistant. Antigone is undeniably the tragic hero of the play. She was the daughter of King Oedipus, met annihilation because of antagonism from others and because of a personal hamartia in her character.
Her hamartia was her yearning for a noble death. She could have escaped her death sentencing several times, but it was almost as if she had a death wish from the beginning of the play. Lonely from the tragic deaths of her family who she could not replace, she had nothing to live for. However, Antigone is a wonderful example of a martyr. She died for what she truly believed in. Antigone’s legacy lives on and instigated many rebellions throughout history especially for the rights of women.