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Free Essay About Antigone

Antigone: The True Tragic Hero in Sophocles' Antigone

In Sophocles' Antigone, the question of who the tragic hero really is, has been a subject of debate for a great number years. Creon does possess some of the qualities that constitute a tragic hero but unfortunately does not completely fit into the role. Antigone, however, possesses all the aspects of a tragic hero. These are, having a high social position, not being overly good or bad, being persistent in their actions, arousing pity in the audience, a revelatory manifestation, and having a single flaw that brings about their own demise and the demise of others around them. Antigone possesses all of these traits therefore qualifying as the tragic hero.

The first qualifying aspect is that Antigone is of a high social standing in Thebes. Creon himself refers to her as a princess though she is technically no longer one. Because of her high standing she is capable of great suffering, in that she has a lot of fame and regard to lose. Those who say Creon is the tragic hero say that Antigone is no longer in a high position in the society, therefore does not qualify on that account. If the character had needed to be in a high political position this would be true, but they need only have a great deal to lose in their downfall. Although she may no longer hold political power Antigone is still a powerful figure in Thebes, since she was to be married to Creon's son Haemon and the whole city seemed to know how tragic her life had become.

Antigone and Creon would qualify as the tragic hero if the only requirement was not being overly good or bad. Creon shows his negative side when he refuses to bury Polyneices and when he speaks to the sentry. His positive side is shown in his obvious affection for Antigone and Ismene. Antigone's ungodly side is shown by her incestuous behavior with her brother Polyneices. Her positive side is shown by the way the she insists on respecting his right to be buried in the religious tradition of Greece so that his soul may live on in the afterlife.

Another aspect of a tragic hero is an unwavering course of action, most likely caused by their flaw, that brings about their demise and the demise of those around them. Antigone's flaw is her rash and headstrong behavior. This is the source of the conflict in the play. Had Antigone asked Creon for permission to bury Polyneices in observance of the Greek role in religious life he would have probably allowed it. Instead, she rashly decided to take matters into her own hands, most likely because of her anger in losing the true love of her life. This aspect also emerges later in the play, when Antigone decides to kill herself in the tomb rather than give Creon the satisfaction of the deed. Had she not been so recklessly hasty she would have been spared her life by Creon, who was on his way to free Antigone and have Polyneices given a proper burial.

Creon does not have a persistent nature, and therefore could not be the Aristotelian tragic hero. His ineptness as a ruler is prevalent in the way he wavers on the topic of Polyneices burial. In the beginning he seems very stubborn, which some say is one of the fatal flaws that qualify him as a tragic hero, but later changes his mind. The true tragic hero would stick to their fatal flaw, like Antigone did, until their complete demise.

As far as the issue of arising pity in the audience and in other characters, it is clear that Antigone clearly wins over Creon in the arena of intensity of emotion. All of Thebes sympathizes with Antigone, especially after she has been sentenced to death. Haemon himself tells his father "And I have heard them, muttering and whispering...They say no woman has ever, so unreasonably, died so shameful a death for a generous act"(Scene 3. 61-4). It is obvious that she had the pity of the entire city except for Creon. Creon, however, is not sympathized with at all except for the chorus, which always agrees with the last point of view presented. Some readers may be inclined to side with him, but the entire city is opposed to him during the play disqualifying him as the tragic hero.

Another issue that has been brought up in the debate is the necessary presence of an epiphany, or revelatory manifestation of to the tragic hero. Creon is supposed to have received his when Tiresias delivers his prophecy, proclaiming that the Gods have decided he was wrong in what he did. But the true epiphany in this play would have been right before Antigone hung herself, when she realized what has become of her life due to her own fatal flaw.

Antigone’s choice to bury Polyneices is what the play revolves around. Her impetuous personality and incestuous love drives her to disregard the will of the struggling King Creon and bury her brother. The consequences of her actions cause the demise of not only herself, but Creon's son and her groom to be Haemon, who kills himself once he hears of her death.

In closing, upon a close analyses of the play Antigone, the tragic hero would have to be Antigone herself, since she has all the aspects that a tragic hero must have. Having a high social position, not being overly good or bad, being persistent in their actions, arousing pity in the audience, a revelatory manifestation, and having a single flaw that brings about their own demise and the demise of others around them. Creon does not have perseverance, arousal of pity from characters and audience, and a single flaw which brings about the demise of himself and everyone around him. Although Creon closely resembles what a tragic hero must be, it is clear that Antigone is the tragic hero in Sophocles' Antigone.

In Sophocles' Antigone, the question of who the tragic hero really is, has been a subject of debate for a great number years. Creon does possess some of the qualities that constitute a tragic hero but unfortunately does not completely fit into the role. Antigone, however, possesses all the aspects of a tragic hero. These are, having a high social position, not being overly good or bad, being persistent in their actions, arousing pity in the audience, a revelatory manifestation, and having a single flaw that brings about their own demise and the demise of others around them. Antigone possesses all of these traits therefore qualifying as the tragic hero.

The first qualifying aspect is that Antigone is of a high social standing in Thebes. Creon himself refers to her as a princess though she is technically no longer one. Because of her high standing she is capable of great suffering, in that she has a lot of fame and regard to lose. Those who say Creon is the tragic hero say that Antigone is no longer in a high position in the society, therefore does not qualify on that account. If the character had needed to be in a high political position this would be true, but they need only have a great deal to lose in their downfall. Although she may no longer hold political power Antigone is still a powerful figure in Thebes, since she was to be married to Creon's son Haemon and the whole city seemed to know how tragic her life had become.

Antigone and Creon would qualify as the tragic hero if the only requirement was not being overly good or bad. Creon shows his negative side when he refuses to bury Polyneices and when he speaks to the sentry. His positive side is shown in his obvious affection for Antigone and Ismene. Antigone's ungodly side is shown by her incestuous behavior with her brother Polyneices. Her positive side is shown by the way the she insists on respecting his right to be buried in the religious tradition of Greece so that his soul may live on in the afterlife.

Another aspect of a tragic hero is an unwavering course of action, most likely caused by their flaw, that brings about their demise and the demise of those around them. Antigone's flaw is her rash and headstrong behavior. This is the source of the conflict in the play. Had Antigone asked Creon for permission to bury Polyneices in observance of the Greek role in religious life he would have probably allowed it. Instead, she rashly decided to take matters into her own hands, most likely because of her anger in losing the true love of her life. This aspect also emerges later in the play, when Antigone decides to kill herself in the tomb rather than give Creon the satisfaction of the deed. Had she not been so recklessly hasty she would have been spared her life by Creon, who was on his way to free Antigone and have Polyneices given a proper burial.

Creon does not have a persistent nature, and therefore could not be the Aristotelian tragic hero. His ineptness as a ruler is prevalent in the way he wavers on the topic of Polyneices burial. In the beginning he seems very stubborn, which some say is one of the fatal flaws that qualify him as a tragic hero, but later changes his mind. The true tragic hero would stick to their fatal flaw, like Antigone did, until their complete demise.

As far as the issue of arising pity in the audience and in other characters, it is clear that Antigone clearly wins over Creon in the arena of intensity of emotion. All of Thebes sympathizes with Antigone, especially after she has been sentenced to death. Haemon himself tells his father "And I have heard them, muttering and whispering...They say no woman has ever, so unreasonably, died so shameful a death for a generous act"(Scene 3. 61-4). It is obvious that she had the pity of the entire city except for Creon. Creon, however, is not sympathized with at all except for the chorus, which always agrees with the last point of view presented. Some readers may be inclined to side with him, but the entire city is opposed to him during the play disqualifying him as the tragic hero.

Another issue that has been brought up in the debate is the necessary presence of an epiphany, or revelatory manifestation of to the tragic hero. Creon is supposed to have received his when Tiresias delivers his prophecy, proclaiming that the Gods have decided he was wrong in what he did. But the true epiphany in this play would have been right before Antigone hung herself, when she realized what has become of her life due to her own fatal flaw.

Antigone’s choice to bury Polyneices is what the play revolves around. Her impetuous personality and incestuous love drives her to disregard the will of the struggling King Creon and bury her brother. The consequences of her actions cause the demise of not only herself, but Creon's son and her groom to be Haemon, who kills himself once he hears of her death.

In closing, upon a close analyses of the play Antigone, the tragic hero would have to be Antigone herself, since she has all the aspects that a tragic hero must have. Having a high social position, not being overly good or bad, being persistent in their actions, arousing pity in the audience, a revelatory manifestation, and having a single flaw that brings about their own demise and the demise of others around them. Creon does not have perseverance, arousal of pity from characters and audience, and a single flaw which brings about the demise of himself and everyone around him. Although Creon closely resembles what a tragic hero must be, it is clear that Antigone is the tragic hero in Sophocles' Antigone.

Word Count: 1994

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Antigone: A Tragic Hero


Heroes come in many forms. Some such as immense in size and strength as
Hercules, some in the form of people that are shunned upon, such as Harriet
Tubman, and some that are only valorous heroes to some, such as Kurt Cobain.
These heroes have many characteristics that make people flock to their side and
follow them without a thought of hesitation. In Sophocles' Antigone the hero
is a women that believes in her heart far stronger than that of her leader's
rule. This brings up many characteristics that are shown within her that are
also seen in other heroes. One being that she is up against an impossible enemy,
one who does not fit well into society's mold, and is destroyed by her own pride.

For these characteristics Antigone is given the title of an epic Heroin.
Antigone is one of the lucky townsfolk to be born of a royal house, yet is
unlucky to be born in the House that she is born into. As Antigone defies
Creon's law, she is cast into a pool of danger between what she believes is
right and what the state's law decrees is right. As Antigone is charged with
the burying of her brother, an action which the King has declared unlawful, she
holds like stone to her undying gratitude for her deceased brother. She holds
to this thought because of the fact that she believes that her, who died
fighting against the state, must be interred with the same honor as her brother
who died defending the state. She believes that this will help lift the curse
plagued on the household. The curse in which there father tried to hold at bay
and failed. Her sister Ismene warned Antigone by exclaiming "Sister please,
please! remember how our father die: hated, in disgrace, wrapped in horror of
himself, his own hand stabbing out his sight. And how his mother-wife in one,
twisted off her earthly days with a cord. And thirdly how our two brothers in
a single day each achieved for each a suicidal Nemesis" (166). This has
already gave Antigone the mind set that even the Gods are against her will. She
is also up against a great foe in fighting that of Creon's edict. Ismene has
said this: "The rest, if we defy our sovereign's edict and his power. Remind
ourselves that we are women, and such not made to fight with men. For might
unfortunately is right and makes us bow to things like this and worse" (167).
So as one would believe Antigone sees herself as not only on who can defy the
power of the Gods but the power of the state. Thus she would be up against an
force greater than her own. Second, another characteristics of a tragic hero is
that the person does not always fit into society's mold. The tragic hero is
usually one who wants change, yet also needs the peace that goes along with
stability. The fact that the tragic hero also usually thinks that they are in
there right mind when yet the rest of the society thinks that they are mad.
Antigone has said "Say that I am mad, and madly let me risk the worst that I can
suffer and the best" (168). this shows that although Antigone thinks she is
doing is right, she also does not care how the other members of society deem
her for her action. Antigone also must believe that she must be different from
not only society but members of her family. Creon notes on this when he is
asking her about his proclamation "O, she's the man, not I, if she can walk away
unscathed! I swear I hardly care if she be my sister's child, or linked to me
by blood more closely than any member of my hearth and home (181). This should
also show one that Creon does not care about her nobility and that he will treat
her just like one any other member of society. Lastly, Antigone is inherently
destroyed by the one thing that is her tragic flaw: excessive pride. This was
also a downfall of her father Oedipus. This pride could also be confused with
honor. Antigone not only defies Creon's edict but also makes a mockery of it
when he asks her about it. When asked if she knows the edict her exclamation is
"Of course I knew. Was it not publicly proclaimed?" (179). This line clearly
shows that Antigone has knows that she broke the edict and also is not shamed to
admit it to the creator of the edict himself. She almost revels in telling
Creon about it. Antigone also shows that she choose what to do not based on the
law of the state but on the laws of the Gods. Antigone also embellishes her
statement by telling Creon that he is a fool to judge her on what she has done.
"I feel no twinges of regret. And if you think I am a fool, perhaps it is
because a fool is judge" (180). If anything this clearly states that she has
excessive pride for what she has done and will make sure that Creon knows this
and her unfeigned gratitude for her dead brothers. As one can tell the role of a
tragic hero is one that Antigone plays well. Although she dies at the end of
this play, Antigone feels no regret in what she has done. She also shows that
she is proud of the fact that she never denied burying her brother. One would
infer that although of her death, Antigone died for what she believed. This is
the utmost characteristic in the portrait of a tragic hero.



 

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