The Tragic Hero of Antigone
Aristotle had several criteria for determining whether or not a character is a tragic hero. The most notable four are nobility, a flaw, a reversal of fortune, and the realization that the reversal of fortune was brought upon the hero by his or her own actions. In the play Antigone, the character Creon matches these criteria better than any other character, which makes him the true tragic hero of this Greek tragedy.
Creon’s nobility is self-explanatory. He is of noble birth, and became king when there was no heir to the throne after Eteocles had died. His flaw, pride and overconfidence, is revealed to the reader soon after he becomes king of Thebes. After giving the order to leave Polyneices’s corpse alone, he says, “This is my command, and you can see the wisdom behind it.” (1,43). This is saying that he believes his word is wise and is right. He also believes he is morally superior and above others, as he believes everyone but him is corrupt when he says, “There’s nothing in the world so demoralizing as money. / Homes gone, men gone, honest hearts corrupted, / Crookedness of all kinds, and all for money!” (1,117 and 119-120). Lastly, he goes as far as to compare himself above the gods by refusing to honor their laws. After the Sentry suggests that the gods buried Polyneices’s body, Creon angrily says, “The gods favor this corpse? Why? How had he served them?” (1,107) as if his judgment is greater than that of the gods.
The final two qualities of a tragic hero are that hero must suffer a reversal of fortune, and realize that the reversal came from his flaw and actions. The reversal of fortune that Creon suffers starts when Antigone and Haemon kill themselves. Full of sorrow, Creon says, “My own blind heart has brought me / From darkness to final darkness.” (Exodos, 86-87) and “I was the fool, not [Haemon]; and you died for me.” (Exodos, 92), realizing that Haemon’s and Antigone’s death was his fault and because of his flaws....
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