Antigone, Sophocles’ classical Greek tragedy, presents tragic flaw as the cause of the destruction of Creon, the king of Thebes. This essay examines that flaw and the critical perspective on it.
Robert D. Murray, Jr. in “Thought and Structure in Sophoclean Tragedy” gives the perspective of the Greek audience, and thereby the reason why there has to be a tragic flaw in Sophoclean tragedy: “A Greek of the fifth century would, of course, have felt. . . . that moral instruction was a vital and valuable function of tragic drama, in particular, and that the voice of the poet was the voice of morality and wisdom as well as of beauty” (23).
In Antigone the new king, Creon, brings down the wrath of the gods because he does not possess the virtues of humility and respect for the gods. Supporting this view is Herbert J. Muller, who in his essay “How Sophocles Viewed and Portrayed the Gods,” maintains that Sophocles in his tragedies condemns selfish or tyrannical pride as the tragic flaw in his heroes: “He [Sophocles] does not plainly condemn their pride unless, as in the Creon of Antigone, it is purely selfish or tyrannical” (56). E. R. Dodds says: “I shall take Aristotle as my starting point. . . . From the thirteenth chapter of the Poetics we learn that the best sort of tragic hero is a man highly esteemed and prosperous who falls into misfortune because of some serious hamartia. . . .” (18-19). Abrams states that the hamartia or tragic flaw is sometimes the vice called hubris (322).
Antigone, the drama, begins with the main woman character and protagonist, Antigone, inviting Ismene outside the palace doors to tell her privately: “What, hath not Creon destin...
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...Tragedy.” In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.
Segal, Charles Paul. “Sophocles’ Praise of Man and the Conflicts of the Antigone.” In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.
Sophocles. Antigone. Translated by R. C. Jebb. The Internet Classic Archive. no pag.
“Sophocles” In Literature of the Western World, edited by Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. NewYork: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1984.
Watling, E. F.. Introduction. In Sophocles: The Theban Plays, translated by E. F. Watling. New York: Penguin Books, 1974.
Woodard, Thomas. Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.
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