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Who is the Tragic Hero and Why? (Antigone)

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Jonathan Ng March 5, 2004 Period 6: English Essay Who is the Tragic Hero and Why? In various literary works, the conflict between the antagonist and protagonist holds great significance towards the literary works' main idea. In Sophocles' Greek tragedy, Antigone, both roles greatly impact the base, moral, idea, and conflict of the play. It is crucial to place a consideration of the time this Greek play was written because of the style of the context. During this period of time called the golden age, the style of writing for great playwrights such as Sophocles was of or related to tragedy. In every tragedy, a tragic hero is found. According to one of the most significant scholars of the golden age, Aristotle, the definition of a tragic hero relies on five events and traits which the character must experience. These five traits, events, and experiences consist of: being well known in their community, expressing either fame or infamy, can not be completely good or bad, must have a flaw in character and recognize this flaw, experience a reversal of fortune, and experience a downfall of some sort. Surprisingly, the tragic hero of the play may not necessarily be the protagonist, but possibly the antagonist. In the play Antigone, the great playwright Sophocles exhibits the perfect example of a tragic hero, the antagonist Creon in contrast to Antigone herself, the protagonist. ...read more.


Creon as king receives much recognition from the country as a person of prominence. With his distinguished power, Creon is enabled to enforce strict actions. His strict actions of law and government, allows his name to live in infamy. Although ruthless in decisions, and unjustly strict in law and government, Creon is still fair. "[N]o Ruler can expect complete loyalty from his subjects until he has been tested in office... I have nothing but contempt for the kind of Governor who is afraid... as for the man who puts private friendship above the public welfare - I have no use for him, either" (Scene 1 24 - 34). This quotation explains that Creon expects persistence from governors and has no faith in governors whom are weak and fearful for reforms. His principles show that he holds character, and is in fact not completely bad or completely good. Creon wills to preserve law and order, and values this more than what is right. His unscrupulous views leads him to punish even family if necessary. "No one values friendship more highly than I; but we must remember that friends made at the risk of wrecking our ship are not real friends at all. These are my principles, at any rate, and that is why I have made the following decision concerning the sons of Oedipus: Eteocles, who died as a man should die, fighting for his country, is to be buried with full military ...read more.


In relation to Creon's unyielding pride, he is forewarned by his son, Haimon, as he states, "Then she must die - but her death will lead to another" (Scene 3, Line 124). Little did Creon know, after Antigen's death, would lead to his son's death, as well as his wife's death. "The Queen is dead" (Exodus, Line 102). After all unfortunate incidents occur; Creon finally reaches the final trait of being a tragic hero, taking responsibility to his flaws which led to his faults. "It is right that is should be. I alone am guilty. I know it, and I say it. Lead me in...Lead me away. I have been rash and foolish. I have killed my son and my wife" (Exodus, Line 121). At this point, the King of Thebes, Creon, finally realizes and accepts the fact that his pride caused his unfortunate downfall, the death of his family, and loved ones. Due to the recognition of his flaw, Creon then fulfils the role of tragic hero in Aristotle's definition. The tragic hero holds a great significance in works of literature. The tragic hero suffers from problems, which brings pain, as well as an unfortunate downfall. The tragic hero often depicted as the perfect character, is truly more earthly, with flaws. Creon is portrayed as the tragic hero in this work of literature. Behavior, pride, decisions, ruling, traits, downfall, flaws, and acceptance of mistakes, are all key factors which allow Creon in Sophocles' Antigone, to fit perfectly in the category of tragic hero. ...read more.

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