The Qualities Of A True Tragic Hero In Antigone

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Words and phrases are defined by those who emulate the underlying concepts. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, and author-defined a tragic hero as “a character who falls from a lofty position because of a tragic flaw” (Aristotle). In Sophocles’ Tragedy Antigone he identifies two distinct characters who represent qualities of a tragic hero. King of ancient Thebes, Creon, acquires a hamartia that results in his own suffering. On the other hand, the protagonist of the play, Antigone, reveals her tragic flaw and ultimate death solidifying the argument to claim her as Antigone’s tragic hero. Due to Creon’s overwhelming lasting suffering as opposed to Antigone immediate death, he truly suffers the fate of a tragic hero. One can deduce Creon to be the true tragic hero through simply analyzing the text, by either the experiences of Antigone, the dialogue of Creon, or making a logical inference to supersede Creon as the true Tragic hero.

The tragic hero of alli Greek Tragedies experienceiwavelengths of life experience to ultimately result initheir tragic punishment.iThe self-imposed kingiof Thebes and uncleiof the protagonistiAntigone, Creon,iconsistently displaysihis tragic flawiover the course ofithe play. Creon’s hubrisioverruled his rationalityiand ultimately causesihis own family toidismantle.

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Creon irrationallyiestablished unlawful restrictionsiand rules in order to protectihis own kingdom fromicivil war. Creon made theseilaws knowing theidifficulty certain citizensiwould have keeping them.iOut of possibleistress or rage,ihe ordered toiprohibit Polyneicesifrom having a properiburial. Antigone heardithis outrageous lawiand she refused toistand by it. She told her sisteriIsmene to comeiwith her to help bury theiribrother Polyneices. Ismene wantedito help but sheithought the recklessnessiwould endanger heribecause Creon orderedinot to, “O reckless one, when Creon spoke against it.” Thisishows the extentia king willigo to just to showihis own poweriand authorityiover everyoneielse. The strengthiof Creon’s terribleinature overridesihis moral standards,imental stability,iand the mostioutstanding of all his religiousibeliefs. Creon did not getiinto this mess justito gainirespect; however,ihe did it to protectihis country asiwell. Creon believediif he allowediPolyneices’ burialito undergo oribypass Antigoneiafter she went against his lawimight put Thebesiin a feeble position. He viewedithe scenario as aitime he could either lack origain strengthiand authority. Creon andiAntigone argued on theiriposition on whether or not Polyneicesideserved a burial, “Never is the enemy, even in death, a friend” (523). This text shows theiwondrous and the diligentipersonality Creon acquires.iCreon continuously didianything andieverything to protect hisipeople, but he also damagedimany people along the way. Theihubristic nature of Creoniled to his unjust laws andiresponded that caused multiple deathsithat finallyileft him alone andimiserable.

Ironically, the experiencesiof the protagonistiand antagonist of everyigreat story often mirror one anotherithroughout the plot. Throughout theitragedy, the protagonist of the novel, Antigone, facesisimilar stereotypical tragic challenges to Creon. Creon and Antigoneialike suffer from a heavy dose of hubris andiit greatly impacts both of their lives. With secrecy, Antigoneiwent around the lawito bury Polyneices; however,ia guard foundiout about the burial anditold Creon, “I’ll tell you. Someone left the corpse just now,/ burial all accomplished, thirsty dust/ strewn on the flesh, the ritual complete” (245). Granted,iAntigone wonderfullyiwent around the lawifor the greater goodiand to protect the lawiof the gods; however, she may have done all of it just for the sake of glory. In ancient Greek society, a woman who strived for glory did not just go against Greek culture but, all of the society will view her as a hideous and terrible woman. After Creon called both Ismene and Antigone for questioning, Ismene stood up for her sister and claimed that she herself helped with the deed. Ismene’s response angered Antigone, “Justice will not allow this. You did not/ wish for a part, nor did I give you one” (538). If one simply delved into this quotation it would seem Antigone tried to deny Ismene’s response to at least save Ismene from execution; however, one could look at this passage and see a deeper meaning to it. Deep down Antigone could not care less about Ismene; rather, the only reason for her retaliation to the authority was for the recognition and glory. The good can range from great respect to amazing passion and the bad can vary from haughtiness to sickening blood thirst but, all humans will always contain at least one wondrous and one terrible trait.

Creon is the true tragic hero and not Antigone because of the longevity of his suffering. Creon will continue to live a life of loneliness and regret until death while Antigone will never truly experience her tragic punishment since it resulted in the ending of her life. Creon got to rule the city of Thebes after the murder of his two nephews, Eteocles and Polynices. In the result of such a horrible ending to a civil war he decided to protect his citizens at all costs with irrational laws. Creon believed himself to be the perfect, rational, successful, and wise king to ever rule over Thebes. Courage and confidence are definite necessities of a king, but too much of it is destructive. Since Creon thought his own laws to be flawless and worthy of keeping he would never alter law for any occasion, even the occasion of his own niece sentenced to death. Creon’s tragic flaw, stubbornness, is what causes the death of Antigone, Haemon, and Creon’s wife. Creon cries out to the messenger questioning his own future: “What remains for me, what’s fate still got in store? I’ve just held my own son in my arms, and now I see right here in front of me another corpse.” Finally, Creon realizes that his own actions have brought about multiple deaths and he becomes reasonable but it’s too late. Now, all he has left is a life of loneliness and regret “Alas for me . . . the guilt for all of this is mine— it can never be removed from me or passed to any other mortal man.” He discovered at the end of the book that his life here on out is a consequence of his own actions and he no longer deserves to live. If he were to begin the book a less stubborn and uptight man, no one would be dead, both brothers would have proper burials, and Haemon and Antigone could be happily married. As always, life's reality takes a swing and hits it too far to ever erase the deed and people are left hurt and damaged forever. Creon is the true tragic hero of this Greek tragedy since now he must live a life of continuous destruction while Antigone reunites with her parents and siblings in the next world.

After analyzing the text the reader can conclude from the clear cut language of the play that Creon is the true tragic hero. Creon is left alone to suffer for the rest of his life while Antigone faced death and didn’t have to suffer from any consequences. Creon’s own wife, son, and niece all killed themselves due to his irrational lawmaking and inconsiderate decisions. Antigone kills herself and while that may seem tragic, she truly never experiences true suffering. As Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero involves real suffering and punishment, only Creon can be defined as a tragic hero due to his great suffering in comparison to Antigone. Luckily, the intellectual society has been given the true definition of a tragic hero and hence our correlation with Creon; however, without a true definition intellectual must learn to create and establish accepted interpretations of all unknown articles and unestablished terminology.

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The Qualities Of A True Tragic Hero In Antigone. (2021, September 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 17, 2024, from
“The Qualities Of A True Tragic Hero In Antigone.” Edubirdie, 14 Sept. 2021,
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