8 April 2010
The Tragic Hero of Antigone
In Sophocles’ play Antigone, both Creon and Antigone display some characteristics of a tragic hero. Creon is the king of Thebes following the late Oedipus and his sons. He decrees that no one should ever bury Polyneices because he was a traitor to his city, while Eteocles would be buried with full military honors. Antigone hears this proclamation and decides to bury her brother, Polyneices, in order to follow the laws of the gods. They could both arguably be the tragic hero of the story. A tragic hero is usually of high birth that has a tragic flaw that causes them to fall from a great height after having a moment of recognition all too late. This comparison between Creon and Antigone will show that Creon best fits the characteristics of a tragic hero.
The definition of a tragic hero includes having an anagnorsis, or moment of recognition when they realize their tragic flaw, and this is one way in which Antigone does not qualify as a tragic hero while Creon does. In the beginning, Creon is very stubborn in his decision to kill Antigone for burying her brother. Even after he hears Teiresias’ prophecy, de does not change his mind. It is not until later he realizes that “it is worse to risk everything for stubborn pride” though it is still much too late for him (235). He sees that “the laws of the gods are mighty, and a man must serve them to the last day of his life!” (236). He has not served the gods by denying Polyneices a proper burial. By foolishly rejecting the laws of the gods, his “own blind heart has brought [him] from darkness to final darkness” (242). Now he has recognized the wrongs he has committed against Oedipus’ children, which ultimately causes his downfall. Antigone, on the other hand, is aware of the consequences of her actions from the very beginning. She says to her sister “I will bury him; and if I must die, I say that this crime is holy”, showing that she has...