23 September 2013
Antigone: Tragic Hero
A tragic hero can be defined in many different ways. He or she is usually the main character in a Greek or Roman tragedy. He’s typically an admirable character who appears as the focus in a tragic play, but who is undone by a hamartia. This hamartia, often pride (or hubris), leads to the downfall of the main character and sometimes everything he or she holds dear. He is doomed from the start, bears no responsibility for possessing his flaw, but eventually bears responsibility for his actions. The tragic hero is royal or noble with great power, usually a king. He is a good, respected man who acts out of good intentions. This ensures that his fate affects the welfare of a whole nation or number of people. He also has much to lose, but doesn’t necessarily have to die. The hero realizes that his own flaw or error has caused his reversal. This recognition always occurs too late for the hero to prevent or escape his fate. The only character from Antigone that mostly matches these descriptions based on his royalty, his questioning of the gods, and his hubris, is Creon.
Creon may have been a well-respected or feared king, but according to Greek religion, kings had no power to question the laws of a god. This is exactly what Creon did and how he tested the waters. In the second Creon delivered the command that "Polynices...is to have no burial: no man is to touch him or say the least prayer for him; he shall lie on the plain, unburied", he is in turn defying the ancient law of the gods; which states that upon death, a proper burial is necessary. By doing this, he pretty much declared himself as god. This action throws him into his fate of suffering. Although Antigone stood up to Creon and questioned his assumed authority, to him she was only one girl. This was therefore not enough to stop him from making his command final. Consequently, because he is feared by the rest of the population, the only person that can stop Creon now is himself. This puts Creon in a place where he can decide his wrong-doings and take credit for them, which would officially make him a tragic hero.
Creon's human flaws and emotions, including pride and arrogance ultimately lead to his downfall, which further ties to him being the tragic hero. His actions are derived from his fear of losing his place as king. Creon's ego prevents him from listening to any advice given to him (except for Tiresias’, but by then it’s too late). He says "My voice is the one voice giving orders in this city". He is not willing to listen to anybody because he believes that going back on a decision will somehow destroy his pride. He, however, hides this reason behind the fact that what he was doing was what was best for Thebes. In the words of Mary Wollstonecraft, “No man chooses evil because it is evil. He only