King Lear and Antigone as Tragic Hero

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Because Lear is capable of change, he becomes a tragic hero; because Antigone is incapable of change, she never becomes a tragic heroine.

Aristotle defines a tragic hero as someone, usually a male, who “falls from a high place mainly due to their fatal flaw.” During the highest point of the tragic hero’s life, something is revealed to the protagonist causing a reversal in their fortune. This reversal of fortune is caused by the flaw in their character. Tragedy evokes catharsis, a feeling of pity for the protagonist in the audience. While both the characters of Lear and Antigone possess some tragic features required to be a tragic hero, only one proves to be the true tragic hero. Antigone can be considered a tragic hero, because tragic heroes have several qualities; they are royal, they have a tragic flaw that leads to their downfall, they have an unhappy ending, and lastly the character is worthy of concern. Antigone in ‘Burial at Thebes’ is an elevated character. This is shown through her bloodline in several ways. First, her father was Oedipus, who was the former king of Thebes. Also, her brothers were Polynieces and Eteocles, who were supposed to rule Thebes with each brother switching off each year, until they both died in a civil war. Lastly, her uncle is Creon, who was the King of Thebes. Antigone also has a tragic flaw, her hubris and head-strongness. Because she is so head-strong and stubborn, she will not denounce her decision to bury her brother Polynieces as that is what she believes to be right. Although burying her brother would mean going against Creon’s man-made laws, she is determined to bury Polynieces as it would be doing right by her brother and the Gods above. She uses a rhetorical question directed at Creon to highlight this “Was I going to honour you, or honour Gods?” Sophocles proves that Antigone is not a tragic hero because of her inability to take responsibility for her own hand in her downfall, instead opting to lay blame on...
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