There has always been a great debate over who is the true tragic hero in Sophocles' Antigone. Many scholars would stake claim to Antigone possessing all the necessary characteristics of a true tragic hero, but many others would argue that Creon holds many qualities as well. It is hard to discount Antigone as a tragic hero, because in fact, the play bears her name, but from careful reading, Creon meets Aristotle's criteria exactly and fits perfectly into the role. In order to determine whether or not Creon is the true tragic hero, one must answer the question: 'What is a Tragic Hero?' In Aristotle's Poetics, he discusses the basic criteria regarding a tragic hero. Aristotle states that tragic heroes must have a 'high' status or social position; characters must not be perfect, although, the character is pre-eminently good; they must have a single flaw that brings about their own demise and that of the others around them. Aristotle also mentions another quality of a tragic hero, which is that the character arouses pity in the audience usually because the punishment exceeds the crime and the hero is alive to face his suffering in order to achieve some self-recognition. After reviewing all these critera, it should be clear that Creon is the true tragic hero.
First, Aristotle suggests that a tragic hero must occupy a ?high? status position, but must also possess nobility and virtue as part of the hero's character. Creon fits this description quite accurately. At the beginning of the play; in the Time and Scene section, it says that, ?Creon, is now king of Thebes.? This quote shows that he occupies a strong status position and stature of nobility. Creon also pro...
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...h ruler and should be punished in the same matter that he ruled. Creon made a choice, a choice he thought was the right one. It turned out that this choice warranted an unjustly punishment. Creon?s punishment exceeds the crime; is one who has excessive pride and arrogance, like many of us, to suffer a lonely and hated life? Should we pity him?
Creon fits all of Aristotle?s criteria to perfection. He is a good king with a high stature, although he is not perfect in his actions. The excessive pride sets the stage for his major flaw. This pride leads to his downfall and that of his family. Creon reaches a period of recognition for his actions. Lastly, his punishment was overly harsh compared to his crime. According to Aristotle, Creon is a striking match to fit the role of a tragic hero.
Sophocles. Antigone. Trans. D. W. Myatt. 1994.
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