Essay about Sophocles' Antigone

Essay about Sophocles' Antigone

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Thebian play of Antigone has excited many debates over the years. The most prevalent being who exactly could be characterized as the tragic hero in the story. The argument that Antigone is the hero is deffinatly a strong one. There are many critics who believe that Creon, however, is the true protagonist of the play. In order to determine whether or not Creon is the tragic hero one must first examine what a tragic hero is. Aristotle states that a hero is neither purely innocent nor purely malevolent. A hero is usually born into high rank of society, and this person must possess a tragic flaw. This flaw normally stems from either poor judgment or extreme arrogance. This flaw will inevitably contribute to the character's downfall.

As the play opens one becomes acquainted with King Creon as the head of his society. This in itself meets one of Aristotle's criteria for being a tragic hero, yet as one reads further into the play it becomes obvious that Creon possesses the tragic flaw of arrogance. He refuses to admit that he is wrong in his judgment over Antigone. When Creon refuses to yield with his order for Antigone to die he exemplifies his own tragic flaw. Creon refuses to admit he is wrong because he believes within himself that he is right. This weakness can be compared to Romeo, in the famous play by William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, who is impulsive and unyielding in his certitude. When Haemon comes to his father after hearing the news of Antigone's plight he pleads with Creon to be reasonable. Haemon compares Creon to trees in a flood. "You've seen trees by a raging winter torrent. How many sway with the flood and salvage every twig, but not the stubborn-they're ripped out." (Lines 797-799) Haemon wants his father to s...


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...tigone, a woman, his niece, and even the one betrothed to his own son Haemon, would dare to disobey him. This shows that Creon's arrogance disrupts his own ability to see his mistake and correct the wrong that he has done.

Both Antigone and Creon are born to noble positions, but this is where their similarities end. Although Antigone's actions in this play merit respect she cannot be characterized as the tragic hero. Her actions are pure, whereas Creon's actions are not.

Historically, when a man's authority is threatened, especially by a woman, he ego is irreparably damaged.

Thus if one must follow Aristotelian theory, the true tragic hero can only be Creon and not, as many continue to hold, Antigone.

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