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Antigone: Creon, A True Tragic Hero Essay, Research Paper

A tragedy, as defined by Ms. Tozar, is “the story of a falling from a high place to a lower place by a character.” In other words, a tragedy is a story of an individual who starts in a high position and descends throughout the story to end in a position that is lower than original position. The individual who makes the descent is known as the tragic hero. The tragic hero, as defined by Ms. Tozar, is “the character who falls from grace as a result of fate and/or a weakness. In the drama, Antigone by Sophocles, one could argue that there are many tragic heroes. However, the one who stands above them all is that of the character of Creon. Creon is understood by most as the tragic hero in Antigone as evident in his descent from grace as a result of fate and/or a weakness.

As stated earlier, a tragic hero fall from grace as a result of a personal flaw or weakness. This so called “grace” is referred to as the Hubris. It is usually a false sense of pride and/or confidence in one’s intelligence. One can determine this Hubris because it is usually the part of the story when the tragic hero’s tragic flaw blooms the greatest. This tragic flaw, or Hamartia, is a fatal flaw or error in judgment. It triggers a sequence of events that lead to the downfall of the tragic hero. The general trend in plays frequently concludes with the death of the tragic hero. However, prior to death, the tragic hero experiences an anagnorisis, or a moment of clarity. An anagnorisis is a realization of situation when the tragic hero moves from ignorance to enlightenment. The change from ignorance to enlightenment includes the tragic hero’s realization of his tragic flaw, how it caused his downfall, how his actions have affected the lives of others, etc. These errors in judgment are usually in the presence of a conflict.

There are multiple conflicts in the drama Antigone. However, the central conflict is between the protagonist, Creon, and the antagonist, Antigone. This conflict can be classified as Man vs. Man. Creon and Antigone compete with one another on the basis of which law is superior, man’s law or god’s law. Creon believing that man-made laws should not be defied, is forced to, due to his beliefs, sentence Antigone to death upon defying the law. This leads to the internal conflict present within Creon. Should he kill Antigone for defying man-made law or acquit her because her intent to follow god’s law? Due to his relentless and uncompromising beliefs of man-made law being superior to all other laws, he is forced to sentence Antigone to death, though many disagree. It seems as the moral thing to do, however, in the end, it turns out to be more than he could bargain for.

Soon after his decision of the fate of Antigone, Creon’s tragic flaw blooms the greatest. This Hubris focuses on the Creon’s relentless, uncompromising, and egotistical attitude. Many try to convince Creon to reconsider on his misguided decision, however, Creon does not yield. It is at this point when one realizes the Hubris of Antigone. Creon possesses a false sense of pride and/or confidence in his intelligence. He believes he cannot be wrong, therefore his uncompromising and egotistical attitude shines brightest. It portrays him as “superficial, pigheaded, self-important man.” (Porter) This is Hamartia, his relentless, uncompromising, and egotistical attitude. With this error in judgment, he is blinded and cannot see the true harm in his actions until it is too late. It triggers a sequence of events that lead to the downfall of the tragic hero. The sequence concludes with the suicides of Antigone, Haimon, and Eurydice. After their deaths, Creon experiences his Anagnorisis. He has his moment of clarity when he realizes the true faults of his actions and the affects it has caused on the lives of others. Creon now realizes that no law is superior to that of the gods and no man alone is strong enough to contest their wrath. Creon now sees all the fruits of his labor, after his “blindness” has vanished, however, the price, which was paid, was to great for even Creon to bear. He has descended from his Hubris into a meaningless and worthless life. For he may have won the battle against Antigone, he has lost everything that is worth living for.

As one may see, Creon has descended from grace. He has met the “requirements” of a tragic hero in that he has experienced Hubris, Hamartia, and an Anagnorisis. He was once king of Thebes with everything in life to be happy for, but due to a relentless, egotistical attitude of his own superiority, he has lost everything to live for. Through his perils and travails, Creon is the true definition of a tragic hero. However, for what reasons would one wish to be a tragic “hero” if all which results is misery?


Porter, Howard N. “The Theatre Recording Society Production Folio on Sophocles’ Antigone.” New York. Caedmon Records.

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