Antigone: The Tragic Hero
In Sophocles’ Antigone, the two main characters, Antigone and Creon, could both claim the title of 'tragic hero,’ but the question is who more deserves the title? The grieving princess who only wanted to do right by her dead brother or the stubborn king who was only doing what he felt was right for his kingdom? There have been many debates over this question. Some people would say that Antigone herself is the tragic hero of her own story; others would argue that it is her uncle Creon who holds the title. Yet there are few people who believe that Ismene, Antigone’s sister, is just as worthy of the title for the fact that in the end she is the only survivor of her family and she, unlike Antigone and Creon, never has a chance where she is able to rectify the problems that come about her. Either way the question still remains ‘who is the tragic hero of Antigone?’ To answer this question we must first learn what defines a tragic hero. According to Aristotle a ‘tragic hero’ is usually someone born of a noble birth. The hero also has a hamartia or a tragic flaw that eventually leads to his downfall. He then has a peripeteia, a reversal of fortune brought about by the hero's tragic flaw. And last but not least his actions must result in an increase of self- awareness and self-knowledge. In Aristotle’s own words, "A man cannot become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall." The tragic hero is not an average man, but a great man with a certain quality about him. His downfall is not brought on because he is evil or wicked nor is he the poster child for either. It is usually brought on by a simple mistake of some kind. In Antigone’s case, her father was King Oedipus and her mother Queen Jocasta so she was indeed born into a noble family and her hamartia is her unwavering loyalty or better yet her unyielding passion. Much like her father Oedipus, Antigone’s passion is what fuels her determination to give her brother a...
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