The dilemma of identifying the true hero, or heroine, of Sophocles’ Antigone has tortured students for years. It is indeed a difficult decision to make. The basis for this decision is what the reader perceives to be Sophocles’ dramatic issue in this play. The dramatic issue of the play is twofold: Antigone is a fanatic who is driven by her religious fever to bury the body of her criminal brother, Polyneices, against the edict of Creon. In the second part, Sophocles shows how the new King Creon’s refusal to change his decision in the face of adversity is admirable, but at the same time his political morals end up destroying his family. His fall from grace is tragic, whereas Antigone's fall is welcome. In this manner, Sophocles sympathizes with Creon, and thus he becomes the hero of the Antigone.
Contrary to the belief of Jebb, a critic of Antigone, Antigone cannot be the heroine of Antigone. There are several reasons for this: she is a one-dimensional character who does not go through any development during the course of the play, her behavior is illogical and does not evoke a sense of pity from the audience nor the chorus, and her personal vendetta outshines her religious goal. These same reasons are also basis for the dismissal of the claims of Hogan, another critic of Antigone who has Antigone and Creon as dual heroes.
Antigone’s character does not evolve in the play. Jebb sees her as enthusiastic, "at once steadfast and passionate, for the right as she sees it- for the performance of her duty," and having an "intense tenderness, purity, and depth of domestic
affection" (Jebb 1902 p.12); Calder and I disagree with this statement. Calder is a critic of the pla...
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...is more likely the tragic hero of Antigone, rather than Antigone herself.
At first glance, Sophocles’ Antigone seems to have two protagonists, Antigone and Creon. The hero cannot be Antigone because of her one-dimensional character, illogical behavior and lack of pitifulness. And upon closer inspection, it is revealed that Creon is indeed the tragic hero, through the fact that his original edict concerning the burial of Polyneices contained the means of Creon’s downfall.
Calder, William M. III (1968). Sophokles' Political Tragedy, Antigone. GRBS 9, 389-407.
Hogan, James C. (1972). The Protagonists of the Antigone. Arethusa 5, 93-100.
Sophocles (1902). Antigone (Richard Jebb, Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sophocles (1991). Antigone (David Green, Trans.). Chicago: The Universiry of Chicago Press.
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