A Neglected Tragedy- Antigone Essay

Submitted By eloizaerwine123
Words: 740
Pages: 3

A Neglected Tragedy

Antigone, by Sophocles, is the unfortunate tale of a cursed royal family troubled and transformed by the death of two brothers and the audacity of their younger sister, Antigone. Sophocles constructs a tragedy, but what lies ambiguous is the identity of the tragic hero. Antigone, a defiant young girl sentenced to death by her uncle due to her thirst for pride, defiance of law, and keen recollection of her adverse past, acts as center focus of tragedy in the play. However, because the story is told mainly from Antigone’s perspective, it becomes easy to forget that Creon exists as the one character who looses everything he holds so dear. Therefore, Creon’s royal status, defiance against the gods, and fatal flaws make him the true tragic hero of Antigone. It may seem challenging to view Creon as the center of the tragedy due to his hateful action of condemning his own niece to death. However, Creon possesses all of the characteristics that create a tragic hero. Part of Creon’s fatal flaw is his elite royal status. As a king, Creon is an incredibly wealthy and powerful human, yet he still is human nonetheless. His citizens follow him devotedly. When he decrees the law against burying Polynices, his subjects blindly obey him by stating “If this is your pleasure, Creon, treating our city’s enemy and our friend this way...the power is yours, I suppose, to enforce it with the laws, both for the dead and all of us, the living” (Ant. 235-239). Furthermore, his royalty implants fear in his citizens. When Antigone asks Ismene to help her bury their brother’s body, Ismene responds in fear by saying “I have no choice-I must obey the ones who stand in power. Why rush to extremes?” (Ant. 79-80). The fear Creon instills is widespread, even amongst his own family members. The power Creon holds over his subjects sets a path for the actions that will further shape his identity as a tragic hero. Creon may hold tremendous rule, but in Greek religion, kings are no match to the power and aptitude of the gods. Creon delivers a speech to the people of Thebes in which he states “he [Polynices] must be left unburied, his corpse carrion for the birds and dogs to tear, an obscenity for the citizens to behold!” (Ant. 229-231). By saying this, Creon defies the laws of the gods, which states that a proper burial is necessary upon death. No one dares to question or stand up to Creon, due to the immense fear he inflicts upon them. Antigone, however, is immune to this fear. When asked why she disobeyed Creon’s law, she responds “Nor did I think your edict has such force that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods, the great unwritten, unshakable traditions” (Ant. 503-505). Even though Antigone rises up against Creon and questions his power and authority, she