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Antigone Tragic Hero Essays

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Written by Sophocles his Greek tragic play, Antigone, was a series of conflicting events that led to foreseeable deaths at every turn. The curse bestowed upon a royal family through generations had led to misfortune more so caused by ill-made decisions rather than fate. As such Creon’s role in this ...

story was vital because of the way he expressed himself when interacting with other characters. His persona was constantly challenged, and direct opposition from those closest to him enraged him. As a tragic hero Creon demonstrates his unwillingness to change for the greater good by being quick-tempered, stubborn, and arrogant; Thus, illustrating the theme that being overly prideful neglects the simple act of listening that leads to the undoing of mankind.

Creon is aware of the dilemma at hand but his irritable temper leads to a more sinister development beginning with an array of conflicting emotions. After being caught Antigone takes full responsibility for her actions standing pridefully before Creon despite being faced with death as punishment. Antigone proceeds to stand by her beliefs defending her brother’s honor though taking up a personal affront towards Creon. Antigone recklessly speaks and acts out of emotion pridefully proclaiming, “Take me and kill me- what more do you want?” (l.565). Creon retaliates with “Me? Nothing. With that I have everything” (l.566). In Antigone’s circumstances, her act of selflessness increases her likeability, however, just like Creon Antigone’s character helps point out the similarities between them. Creon retorted with a response that demonstrated his sense of superiority as king allowing his emotions to also take over by implying her death would give him pleasure. It’s important to notice the archetype being used as it emphasizes Creon’s lack of empathy for Antigone, ignoring the good intentions of her actions. This is meant to display Antigone in a more heroic light meanwhile Creon’s ignorance is emphasized to be more antagonistic. Unable to dissuade Antigone he faces Ismene, Antigone’s sister who wanted to save Antigone. Ismene attempted to reason with Creon by reminding him that his son Haemon would be devastated at the loss of his bride-to-be. Ismene asked Creon if he was truly going to “kill [his] own son’s bride,” but Creon declared outright “Why not? There are other fields for him to plow” (l.650-651). His disregard for the gravity of the situation and his quick reply astonished the characters. He was unreasonable and sought to kill Antigone only to prove his point. His use of euphemism within his diction goes to proves his selfishness as he doesn’t allow anyone else to have any input. It’s considerably even more diabolical as it is the son whose emotions he neglects. Creon’s refusal to acknowledge everyone’s opinion is used to make the reader realize that acting unhinged in disdain will lead to no solutions only progressing the problem, and so forth proving his ignorance through a sense of greater pride.

Having taken a stubborn position in his argument, Creon’s definitive responses are no more than a projection of his incompetency to listen and work with others building up an undesired progression. At once Creon had made his final decision he informed his son of what was to happen and assured him that Antigone’s violation of his law was reason plenty for her death sentence. Haemon, unconvinced, confronted his father’s persuasion seeing as he shared little to no empathy for Antigone; Therefore, unlike his father Haemon pleaded a lighter punishment for Antigone and additional consideration towards her case. Creon stubbornly held onto his authority claiming how “…anyone who’s proud and violates [their] laws or thinks he’ll tell [they’re] leaders what to do,…wins no praise from [him]” (l.757-760). He continuously dragged out his argument on the premise that everyone must abide by set rules despite who’s in charge and “no matter what the issue–great or small, just or unjust” (l.762-763). Creon’s characterization as an ignorant, entitled ruler is backed by the repetitive use of dominion through his outward declarations as he spurns the validation of any other opinion including Haemon’s. He disacknowledges the fact that there is an honest reason for what Antigone did; More so, Creon does not assess why Antigone feels prideful for burying Polyneices. Even as he assumed Antigones true motives Creon never heeded over his own pride which too stood in the way of proper decision-making, a mistake that cycled towards a tragic end. Haemon with good intentions demonstrated his utmost respect while trying to maintain a civilized, understanding conversation with Creon. But, having clashed with Antigone and Ismene, Creon’s raging fallout with the sisters left him more ill-tempered than before, clouding his judgment. Haemon did not deny all of what his father had said though he suggested that his father mustn’t “…let [his] mind dwell on just one thought, that what [he] say[s] is right and nothing else” (l.800-801). Haemon serves as Creon’s foil character who reveals the importance of the simple act of listening, endorsing change, and the power of being open-minded; Proving to be a concept Creon was unable to grasp contributing to a dire development. Though that isn’t to say the discussion was ineffective, on the contrary Creon couldn’t completely brush aside everything Haemon had advised upon; Therefore, it meant that Creon understood he had to change. However simply knowing something must be done does not guarantee the act of doing it; Likewise, Creon changes because he knows his course of action will determine the fate of their family’s curse. In the end, the little change Creon did make was out of selfishness ultimately serving his own self-preservation. The stubbornness he displayed while interacting with Haemon demonstrated how he lacked the ability to make measurable changes within himself as matters had called for. His absolute personality was due to his close-mindedness creating tension and more conflict between the characters.

Time and time again Creon is told what he has to change to achieve a positive outcome, yet once again his arrogance sheds pride in his deplorable and eventually lamentable actions. Creon met with a prophet named Teiresias who warned him of the dangers that were to result because of Creon’s failure to change. He exposed his faults ruthlessly just as Creon had expressed himself with all the other characters. Teiresias wanted to help Creon but found his demeanor intolerable calling Creon “stubborn,” as he was, “invit[ing] accusations of stupidity” (l.1144-1145). Yet Creon disputed, “Old man you’re all like archers shooting at me– For you all I’ve become your target–” (l.1152-1153); Thus believing and embracing the delusion that he was not arrogant but rather everyone was against him. He added, “even prophets have been aiming at me” (l.1154) trying to provoke Terisisas furthermore. Creon’s immaturity in handling criticism from others was blatantly explicit through his use of symbolism as he compared himself to a “target,” an object being “aimed” at. In this way, the author reveals all of Creon’s flaws in a single retort. His petulant responses, his refusal to change his beliefs, and worst of all his unseemingly impregnable personality. In the end, Antigone committed suicide preferring to take her own life with dignity; Soon after Haemon witnesses what happened to his bride and throws a fit of rage attempting to kill his father. But when Haemon too was met with failure he fell pridefully killing himself alongside Antigone. Creon mourned “Alas, how miserable I feel–to look upon this second horror” (l.1438-1439) after receiving the message that his wife had also committed suicide. He asks, “What remains for me, what’s fate still got in store?” (1.1440). At the sight of Creon’s unraveling consequences, he realized his mistake at once, but all was for naught as he still couldn’t blame himself. He utilized the words “I” and “me” to sympathize for himself and not those who he called family. Creon truly characterized himself to be an amazing ruler who asserted all authority yet when faced with the reality of his poor decisions he branded himself a victim. In the entirety of the drama, all the characters were seemingly at fault for the tragic ending, but Creon stands out the most for being a tragic hero. The author meant for the readers to understand that Creon’s pride was always hindering; but, it was the pride displayed within the whole family that had caused the tragedy. For some readers, the play may be commonly perceived as the archetype, of good versus evil. Though what differentiates between these different forms of pride is that Ismene, Antigone, Haemon, Terisisas, and Creon’s wife did not act as they did for power or to uphold some reputation. They all acted on the love and care they shared for each other. All of them made decisions to help protect and honor one another contributing to a moral foundation that was more admirable than Creon’s motives. It however does not change the disastrous outcome of their actions, proving the theme that mankind is destroyed through overly prideful means.

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