A prevalent feature in most ancient Greek tragedy is a character’s downfall due to their fatal flaw, or Achilles’ heel, from the myth of the legendary Greek warrior who was completely indestructible except for his one heel, which of course is where he was shot and killed. When reading Sophocles’ third Theban play, Antigone, most assume the fatal flaw they should focus on is Creon’s hubris, excessive pride and arrogance. But the play is named Antigone, and Antigone is the main character. So what is her fatal flaw? At first glance, Antigone appears to have none, she died defending what she believed was morally and divinely just.
So it looks like Creon is the villain, and Antigone the tragic hero. But Antigone is not free of blame for her own demise. As Patricia M. Lines points out in her article, Antigone’s Flaw, “Antigone’s belief that she and only she understood justice and how it must apply in the particular situation before her left her with no choice but martyrdom.” (Lines, 9) Antigone isolated herself from others, believing she had no allies. If she had only talked to Haemon, Creon’s son and Antigone’s bethrothed, she would have found herself an ally against Creon. Creon’s wife too, would have sided with the children and together they may have been able to change his mind about sentencing Antigone to death. Also, if Antigone had only waited in the cave where she was buried, Haemon would have rescued her, and if she had waited 5 minutes more Creon would have. “Her self-certainly brought her down.” (Lines, 9) In the end, Antigone had as much hubris as Creon and that was what truly killed her.
Although at first glance, Sophocles play Antigone seems to feature a villainous King and a blameless heroine, when examined more closely Antigone is not as blameless as she seems. Her hubris and refusal to accept help from or confide in others was the true cause of her demise.
Lines, Patricia M. “Antigone’s Flaw” HUMANITAS, Volume...
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