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The Characters Portrayals Of Antigone And Creon As The Tragic Heroes

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The story of Antigone and Creon introduces challenges that family members or friends go through in a bid to show commitment or allegiance to one’s beliefs or principles. This is a problem of two people failing to get along with each other on ideological differences. Antigone and Creon may share similar ideals or actions, but they end up causing more damage to themselves rather than strengthening their relationship. They engage each other in a family battle that ends with death as a result of their unwavering character traits and ideologies. Antigone accepts death after breaking the law by giving his brother, Polyneices, a decent burial. Conversely, Creon chooses to follow the rule of law by sacrificing the life of his family member, Antigone, resulting in a desperate and lonely life in the end. Antigone is ultimately right and a hero in this story, while Creon emerges as a villain, the exact opposite. Contrary to our beliefs today, where following the law is the right thing to do, the story of Antigone and Creon proves that sometimes the heroic gesture, that is against the law, is the right thing to do.

Greed and selfishness are evident in the story that shows the specific characters dying prematurely or living in solace and despair. This greed is witnessed by Antigone’s dad, who withdraws at the early stages of the story due to the mounting pressure for power in the City of Thebes from all corners. Antigone’s dad banished himself from the city of Thebes while leaving Antigone’s two brothers scrambling for every piece of the throne. The fight for power in Thebes continues to rise with greed and selfishness, further forcing Polyneices out of the city because King Eteocles declined to withdraw from power. Polyneices is considered a traitor by Creon for abandoning his people. However, Creon uses his greed of power to punish Polyneices. On the other hand, Polyneices unveils his greed of power when he comes back, years later, to the city with a strong army. Antigone’s brothers end up dying as a result of their own greed of power, leaving Antigone together with her only sister, Ismene. Through this cascade of tragic that drains and struggle for power greed and selfishness cause more problems, conflicts, and hostility.

The story outlines different examples of sacrifice described primarily by their motives and ideals. Antigone’s uncle, Creon sacrificed his might to take power in a fiercely contested leadership. Within no time he sacrifices his family member, Antigone, simply to show allegiance to the people of Thebes, as the King. Creon terms Polyneices a traitor and orders that no one should give him a decent burial, ‘I say, is to have no burial: no man is to touch him or say the least prayer for/him’ (Sophocles 7-8, l 169-170-171). According to Creon any person who shall dare touch the body of Polyneices or dare bury him shall be liable for an ultimate punishment of death, in reference to the laws of Thebes. Antigone chooses to sacrifice her life by declining to respect this law, as Polyneices was her loving brother. Equally, Antigone’s brothers had made tremendous sacrifices to their lives by getting into the murky political arena in the city of Thebes that led to their ultimate death. Ultimately, sacrifice push the characters to uphold their beliefs, regardless of the risks involved.

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Both Creon and Antigone are torn between contradictory ideals as a result of their motives in the first place. In other words, Antigone is tormented by the issue of giving her brother a decent burial, despite her full knowledge of capital punishment. She could not allow her brother to rot away in the thicket or be eaten by wild animals. Therefore, she chooses to go against her uncle, Creon and buries her brother, Polyneices. This motive pushes Creon to the point of a dilemma, not knowing whether to administer the rule or break it to protecting his family member. Furthermore, Antigone was already engaged to Haemon, Creon’s son. Despite the dilemma, both Antigone and Creon must come to a decision that may defy each other’s moral compass.

Although, Antigone and Creon have major conflicting ideals the opposition ultimately unites both Antigone and Creon. Although Antigone and Creon are battling for conflicting motives, they both believed strongly that their ideals were defensible. They both remained strong and dedicated to their specific beliefs unwaveringly, despite the risks. Creon does not change the order, whatsoever, as the King of Thebes. Even though their individual stands bring about a serious conflict and even death, it unites them as two extremely dedicated people, who are confident in their principles and ideals. They are both ready to sacrifice for what they believe is right for them and others.

Pride is an evil monster that always leads to a painful fall. This idea is clearly represented in the story of Antigone and Creon as each has their ways of reasoning. Moreover, it is their self-importance that attracts their painful ruin. For example, Antigone declines to accept that she went against the set rule and instead take death in the place of asking for forgiveness or the acceptance of transgression. Creon is equally the same; he was not scared or worried about ending the life of a close family member and destroys the future of his son. This is only in the name of showing allegiance to the people as a King. He swore never to let down the people of Thebes but declined to accept his downfall and poor judgment. However, Creon is seen regretting his actions and is filled with fear. ‘O God, I am sick with fear / Are there no swords here? Has no one a blow for me?’ (Sophocles 40, l. 1018-1019). He is worried someone will end up killing him as well, a clear example of a “fall” that comes after pride. Antigone and Creon’s ego were represented in different perspectives, but in the end unrelenting persistence gives rise to negative outcomes.

Conclusively, the story of Antigone and Creon is deeply rooted in greed, selfishness, conflicts, pride and ultimate sacrifice that leave them in a terrible loss. Each character continues holding on to their strong beliefs, and no one was willing to concede defeat despite the budding risks. Antigone and Creon take center stage as primary characters with completely divergent traits that go on to haunt them in the end. However, due to Creon’s wicked and heartless moral, he is not afraid to kill his relative for power. Whereas Antigone fights for her family and longed brother till she falls to her tragic death. Antigone comes out as a selfless hero, while Creon emerges a villain because of his selfish interests.

Works cited

  1. Sophocles. Antigone. (496?-406 B.C.). Smyrna, Delaware: Prestwick House, Inc. 2015.

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The Characters Portrayals Of Antigone And Creon As The Tragic Heroes. (2021, September 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
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