Pride and Antigone
The Consequences of Pride When analyzing the history of Greek Tragedies it is impossible not to address one of the main focuses of tragedies; the fatal flaw of some of the characters. Fatal flaws are the negative traits of a character that eventually leads to their downfall. One key fatal flaw that is repeated throughout many Greek tragedies is hubris, being the Greek meaning for pride. Hubris is present in many different places throughout Sophocles’ Antigone; however, it is clear through the actions of Antigone, Creon, and Haemon that the worst consequence of hubris is that it eventually leads to one’s downfall.
In the play, Antigone shows hubris in her opposition to royal authority, which eventually leads to her punishment of death. Although one could argue that the things that Antigone does throughout the play are all positive things. However, positive or not positive she defied royal authority in order to obey divine authority, and in the way that she did this demonstrated hubris. Perhaps Antigone’s pride in her act of defiance against royal authority is best demonstrated when Creon confronts her about her rebellion, and the pride that she has over it and says “disaster is linked with disaster” (595).
Antigone goes against royal authority to help bring justice to something that she views as being a “disaster,” the way that she defied authority and buried her brother. However, Creon brings to her attention that disaster only leads to more disaster. Perhaps Creon is foreshadowing that as a result of Antigone’s disastrous reaction to the death of her brother, it will only bring more disaster (to her). Although some people may argue that Antigone’s act was morally the right thing to do, it was not without self-seeking intentions.
An act is not purely whole if the intentions behind it are self-seeking. She proves to the audience that she did not commit this act without self-gain numerous times throughout the play, including when she says “I will suffer nothing as great as death without glory” (112-113). Everyone in the play sees her dying for her brother as a huge heroic act that results from nothing other than the good of who she is as a person. However, this isn’t necessarily the pure case.
While she is very brave for doing what she believes to be the right thing for her brother, and risking death, she is seeking favor from the gods. Therefore, one could argue that she buried her brother with selfish intentions. She did what she did in order to gain favor from the gods, as well as to gain “glory. ” All of her actions put together make a strong case that the fatal flaw of Antigone was in fact her pride towards her action. In the end her sense of pride led to her being punished and buried alive.
The contrast to Antigone, Creon, also displays a large amount of hubris, leading to his downfall in the death of his son. Creon is the ruler of the land. But as the leader of the land Creon believes that he has divine right to be in charge and make orders. Creon’s sense of pride in the way that he rules is best demonstrated when he states “Am I to rule this land for others –or for myself” (823)? The intentions behind Creon’s rule can appear to be completely self-motivated.
On a similar note, it is the divine right from the gods for a person to have a proper burial. However, due to the fact that Creon takes this right away from a person as a result of his personal opinion, he is demonstrating that he believes that he has authority over the god’s wishes. Creon’s pride and arrogance dig him into a deeper hole when he talks to his son about Antigone’s punishment and he states “Spit her out, like a mortal enemy –let the girl go. Let her find a husband down among the dead (728-730).
In response to his father’s opinion on Antigone, Creon’s son threatens to hang himself due to his father’s harsh convictions. When Creon doesn’t listen to him he realizes that his son has committed suicide, the consequences of his pride are brought to life. In conclusion, pride is never a good quality to possess. However, in the usage of a Greek tragedy, pride can lead to your downfall. As demonstrated in the various characters of Antigone, you have to be careful with pride otherwise it could lead to your downfall.