Essay on Antigone: Sophocles and Tragic Hero

Submitted By toribowie
Words: 768
Pages: 4

Creon: The Archetype of a Tragic Hero The Greek tragedy Antigone by Sophocles is a story of defiance on one part and ignorance on the other, ultimately resulting in downfall in both cases. The play begins in the aftermath of a civil war in Thebes; there are many casualties including two brothers, Polyneices and Eteocles. These brothers along with their sisters, Antigone and Ismene, are the children of Oedipus, the previous king who suffered a curse that led to his inevitable demise. The current ruler of Thebes, Creon, is uncle to the two brothers and sisters and makes an important decree after the war. He decrees Polyneices a traitor for attacking his homeland and, unlike his brother, will not receive a burial. Antigone, propelled by lamentation over the death of her two brothers and a need to follow the laws of the gods, buries Polyneices anyways, despite the new law, with no help from Ismene. She is caught soon enough and sentenced to death along with her innocent sister. Within the many dramatic details of this play lies the archetype of the tragic hero. A tragic hero, by Aristotle’s definition, exemplifies the characteristics of high status, a tragic flaw, a downfall caused by his or her own actions, and enlightenment at the end. In the Greek tragedy Antigone by Sophocles the author utilizes the trait of ignorance, the suicides of Haemon and Eurydice, and self-blame to demonstrate Creon as the archetype of the tragic hero in order to show that arrogance and rash decisions ultimately lead to downfall in the end. Hollingsead 2
The first trait of this archetype Creon most obviously embodies is the tragic flaw, ignorance. He lets this show through a combination of rash decisions, arrogance, and an intense need for deference. “Whatever you say will not change my will” (Sophocles 1100). In the most basic sense, this is Creon’s response to any and everyone who dares to defy him, even if the person shows no evidence of insolence. He is unable to comprehend being told what to do or to think, although it may be the right decision overall. “Arrest Ismene. I accuse her equally” (Sophocles 1083). Creon is ignorant in the way that he makes rash decisions with often no logic behind them. He has no sympathy for the innocent, in this case Ismene, and he only fears that they may get in his way or speak against him. Following close behind this tragic flaw is Creon’s inevitable downfall. Multiple events build up to create Creon’s anything but auspicious down bringing. “His own, driven mad by the murder his father had done” (Sophocles 1103). This is what a messenger responds with when the queen, Eurydices, questions him about who killed her son. In that quote alone, it is clarified that Creon was ultimately the cause of the untimely suicide of his own son. “And her last breath was a curse for their