Antigone Tragic Hero

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 927
Topics: Ancient Greece, Antigone, Book, Greek Mythology


“Antigone” by Sophocles is a unique play with a fascinating plot, where essential themes are feminism and Antigone’s resolve to rebel against their ruler. As this play is a tragedy, there are many arguments about the identification of the tragic hero, between the leading character Antigone and Creon, her violent uncle. A tragic hero typically represents a figure — not always the protagonist — with a tragic flaw, who causes their own destruction and downfall. Although Antigone encountered multiple struggles and flaws, Creon is more fitting for this character because of the conflicts he deals with, his confession of his deeds, and the way he accepts his punishment at the end.

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Creon’s tragic flaws make him a true tragic hero

At the start of the play, Creon is perceived as a ruler with high ethics and clear laws that are accompanied by punishments. However, the tension in the play begins when Creon does not permit the proper burial of Antigone’s brother. This depicts Creon with his inordinate arrogance in his role as a leader, which represents his crucial tragic flaw. One more thing he repeatedly reveals is the conviction that everything he performs, such as all his violent deeds, is correct, and he does not want to admit that what he does is unacceptable. For instance, the author of the story claims: “O dearest Haimon, how your father wrong you! (Ismene) // I’ve had enough of your childish talk of marriage! (Creon)” This reveals how Creon also desires to monitor his son’s life, by telling him that his choice not to desire Antigone is the right one for him, which is why he wills death to separate them. And although Antigone’s brothers were on the throne, he felt as if he possessed a greater power than the gods. This can be observed when he states: “The State is the king!” He considers that no one, but he can come up with all the solutions for them. At this moment Creon is depicted as haughty. This clearly demonstrates the characteristics of the tragic hero.

In the process of the dynamic development of the plot, Creon understands that his egoism and arrogance stand in the way of his destiny. It is only the prophet Tiresias who discloses to him that Creon is destined to die. Since Creon is aware of his fate, more and more predestination is to follow his family, but he is clueless about it until it is revealed. Although Creon might be filled with his self-importance, he cared about his family, so his punishment for his cruel deeds is for them. “ Think: all men make mistakes, / But a good man yields when he knows his curse is wrong, / And repairs the evil.” When Tiresias says this to Creon, he hopes that he will reconsider his decision and let Antigone free, but since Creon believed that he was accurate in everything, he decided not to do so. He refused this opportunity, a rare and valuable moment to redeem himself. This all obviously boils down to the traits of a tragic hero. Creon’s tragic flaw is his arrogance, because he needs to appear to remain a dominant and impeccable leader. He does not want to be able to reveal his weaknesses to others, nor does he want to admit them to himself. Hence, not being able to recompense for his deeds, Creon indeed comes under the prediction of Tiresias that he will cause misfortune into his life.

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Ultimately, when Creon finds out about the deaths, he begins to recognize all the contradictions he caused himself and others. His wife passed away and so did his son. These were the consequences of Creon’s deeds, of the way his arrogance got the better of his actions and utterances — all of which brought about these dramas. At this point, Creon’s tragedy comes to an end. This implies that after these deaths came Creon’s predestination. When this occurred, he began to recognize that everything comes back to what he committed, and he understands that he was the reason for it. He states: “I have been rash and foolish…” Creon admits that he did nothing but follow his own instructions and center everything on his own solutions, and didn’t know that it was damaging others, even if he wasn’t doing it specifically in their best interest. His arrogance brought him to his downfall, and he recognized it too late, not heeding what others had to say about his governance. He accepted no advice about leadership from anyone, not even from his own family. He also mentions: “Fate has brought all my pride to a thought of dust”. This defined how he recognized that it was his own pride that caused his own decline. Awareness of his failings and deeds is another defining trait of a tragic hero.


Creon embodies all the features inherent in a tragic hero. Initially, his tragic flaw was that he was filled with arrogance. His pride resulted in all subsequent conflicts, and Creon was dragged into each and every trouble, whether family or national. Ultimately, he was able to recognize all his failings and admitted that this was what caused his downfall. Antigone, by contrast, may have demonstrated a tragic flaw and multiple struggles, but she failed to confess anything, and it is not clear if she made lessons from her missteps. Nor is it revealed how she is aware of where she went flawed, etc. Creon, however, recognizes where he is mistaken, even if it is extremely late. For this reason, Creon represents the genuine tragic hero of Antigone.

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