Antigone: Protagonist or Misinterpreted Innocence?
A literal “age old” argument that has sparked intelligent conversation since the BC era is still as potent as ever in Sophocles’ Greek tragedy, Antigone. Since the play’s origin, there has always been a toss-up as to who the true tragic hero, or protagonist, is. A popular misconception is that the character Antigone must be the protagonist due to her direct name being the title. Sophocles intends the play to highlight Antigone and her soon to be fatal clash with her newly crowned uncle, Creon. Hence, the basic title, Antigone. Analytically speaking, however, Creon does seem to more categorically fit the title of “Tragic Hero.” There is no doubt as to the nature of the work, that being tragedy. Along with this genre comes certain established prerequisites and Creon is the only character that satisfactorily fits them all. There are certain qualities that a character must possess in order to qualify as a tragic hero. Ideally, the subject is to be a person of high rank, so that they may have much to lose. (Most frequently a monarch or patriarch is used.) Granted, Antigone is a member of the royal bloodline. But we must not forget that she is the daughter of incest, hardly a glamorous position to start with. In Oedipus Rex, Antigone was indirectly disgraced, while Creon was socially elevated by inheriting kingship from Oedipus. Also, Creon’s being king comparatively trumps Antigone’s lesser status of orphaned princess. While this in itself objectively proves nothing, it does at a minimum make Creon the more likely choice of protagonist. Another essential component of a tragic hero is that of the tragic flaw, the one attribute that causes the inevitable downfall of the character. A case could be made for Antigone’s hamartia being stubbornness. She is called stubbornly wild in the play by both Creon: “This girl was an old hand at insolence” (1280) and by the chorus leader: “She hasn’t learned to bend before...
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