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Creon as the Tragic Hero in Sophocles' Antigone Essay example

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Creon as the Tragic Hero in Antigone 


   This essay will compare two of the characters in “Antigone”, Antigone and Creon, in an effort to determine the identity of the tragic hero in this tale.

            To identify the tragic hero in Sophocles’ renowned play “Antigone”, we should first consider both the elements present in Greek tragedies and what characteristics define a tragic hero. Aristotle’s definition of tragedy is: “Tragedy is a story taking the hero from happiness to misery because of a fatal flaw or mistake on his part. To be a true tragic hero he must also elicit a strong emotional response of pity and fear from the audience. This is known as catharsis or purging of emotion.” In most cases the tragic hero begins the play with high status, which is often lost in the exodus of the play. For example, in another of Sophocles’ plays, “Oedipus Rex”, in which Oedipus is the undisputed tragic hero, Oedipus begins the play as an illustrious king and ends as a blind beggar. His plight encourages sympathy from the audience because of the curse that had been on him since he was a child.

            Antigone, to whom the play owes its name, is daughter of Oedipus, the former king of Thebes. It would seem that she has a relatively high position for a woman, based on the fact that she has a marriage tie to Haemon, son of Creon, the present king of Thebes. 

             Antigone, rather than being happy at the plays’ beginning, instead makes her entrance in the opening scene very upset with the order given by Creon not to bury her brother Polynices. Antigone is then caught while burying Polynices and seems almost content with being put to death, “I earned the punishment which I now suffer” (Antigone, 152), though...


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...” In Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, edited by Michael J. O’Brien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Heidegger, Martin. “The Ode on Man in Sophocles’ Antigone.” In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Jaeger, Werner. “Sophocles’ Mastery of Character Development.” In Readings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997.

Segal, Charles. Oedipus the King: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.

Sophocles. Antigone. Exploring Literature: Writing and thinking About Fiction,
Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. Ed. Joseph Terry. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc, 2001.

Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Trans. Bernard M. W. Knox. New York: Washi ngton Squ are Books, 1994.


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