Antigone Tragic Hero
English 10: Period 5 20 March 2012 Tragic Hero Within the tragic play Antigone, by Sophocles, there is a dichotomy between the two main characters: Antigone and Creon. Throughout the play Antigone and Creon both portray a tragic hero; however, Antigone illustrates more qualities of a tragic hero. A tragic hero is one who fails to attain happiness and whose failures excites pity, has a great integrity of character, and is nether extremely benevolent nor malevolent. These are all qualities Antigone has and Creon does not. There is a large amount of evidence that shows Antigone’s character as being neither benevolent nor malevolent.
Antigone shows the reader her admirable side by doing the moral act of covering up and bringing peace to her brother’s, Polyneice, defiled dead body. Sophocles writes, “But as for me, I will bury the brother I love”, to show Antigone’s benevolent act (64-65). Even though it is an illegal act, because she is going against the king’s orders, not to cover up the corpse, it is an honorable act. Antigone also has a malevolent side towards her sister. Antigone states, “Go away, Ismene: I shall be hating you soon, and the dead will too” (77-78).
The use of diction “hating” shows the reader Antigone’s hostile behavior. By the author displaying to the reader a both hostile and compassionate side of Antigone, it shows Antigone’s character being neither altruistic nor nefarious; therefore further confirming Antigone’s character as being a tragic hero. Likewise, Creon could be argued to be neither considerably benevolent nor malevolent character. He displays his honorable and generous side by burring Eteocles with full military honor; however, Creon presents more dishonorable acts.
Creon defiles Polyneice’s body, is stubborn to others advice, and locks Antigone up with her sister; therefore, displaying nefarious acts, proving him to be a diabolical character. Another quality of a tragic hero is having tragic flaws, which Antigone shows throughout the tragedy of Antigone. Antigone displays stubborn and prideful qualities as her tragic flaws, which is ultimately harmful to her. Antigone shows her perseverance when she buries Polyneice’s body even when told by the Creon, the King, not to.
Antigone states, “But as for me, I will bury the brother I love” (64-65). Another example of Antigone’s tragic flaw is when Antigone has an argument with the Creon about her being morally right burying her brother’s body. Antigone argues, “Then I beg you: kill me…. I should have praise and honor for what I have done. All these men would praise me were their lips not frozen shut with fear of you (bitterly)” (94-101). While Creon also displays these tragic qualities of being prideful and obstinate, when ignores the prophet advice to let Antigone and Ismene go.
These tragic qualities where not the death of him, while these tragic flaws ultimately was the tragic death of her; therefore, making Antigone the epitome of a tragic character. The most important aspect of a tragic character is that the audience must sympathize with the character. Antigone acquires pity from the audience through her brave acts. For one she risked her life to bury her brother, which at the time was seen as bestowing peace to them. Sophocles writes, “But I will bury him: and if I must die, I say that this crime is holy: I shall lie down with him in death” (55-57).
This displays Antigone’s integrity; therefore, Antigone obtains a plethora of pity from the audience, because Antigone tried to do what was morally right but it was the seemingly the end of her. The audience feels greater sympathy for Antigone because she is a woman. Since she is a female her death is illustrated to be more tragic, because it is seemingly more unavoidable. In this time period women were submissive to men and men were the hegemony. Since she was discriminated against as a female (something she has no control over) and ultimately was her death, the audience can sympathize for her and take pity on her.
While there is a lot of evidence that shows Creon displays more acts of a tragic hero; however, through him not dying and his malevolent acts, Creon is evidently not a tragic hero. Antigone displays even more qualities and has more persuasive evidence of a tragic hero. Through her neither extremely altruistic nor nefarious character, her tragic flaws, and as well as her qualities that compel the audience to sympathize with her. Antigone is the quintessential example of a tragic hero.