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Reports & Essays: Literature - Plays

"AND""OR"

Antigone
by Sophocles The debate over who is the tragic hero in "Antigone" continues and there seems to be no solution. The belief that Antigone is the hero is a strong one; however, there are many critics who believe that Creon, the Ruler of Thebes, is the true protagonist. Both characters show strength by maintaining their beliefs and not yielding to external influences. The play portrays a struggle between two individuals; one believing in the power of a mortal law and the other believing in the power of a religious law. Antigone, is the underling to Creon in that she is a subject in his kingdom and a woman, yet she is bold and defiant. Her actions of remaining steadfast to the point of even giving up her life for her belief, makes her the stronger protagonist and the hero or rather heroine of the play. Many critics argue that Creon is the tragic hero of Antigone. They say that his noble quality is his caring for Antigone and Ismene when their father was persecuted. Those who stand behind Creon also argue that Antigone never had a true epiphany, a key element in being a tragic hero. Creon, on the other hand, realized his mistake when Teiresias made his prophecy. He is forced to live, knowing that three people are dead because of his ignorance, which is a punishment worse than death. The arguments that Antigone is the true hero/heroine of the play are based on the fact that she tries to help her brother without worrying about what will happen to her. She says, "I intend to give my brother burial. I'll be glad to die in the attempt, -if it's a crime, then it's a crime that God commands" (Sophocles 4). She is being punished for following the decrees of the gods. Her epiphany came, hidden from the audience, before she hung herself. Creon's "nobleness" of taking in young Antigone and Ismene is overshadowed by his egotistical nature. He will not show mercy, simply because he wants to protect his image. He says, "If she gets away with this behavior, call me a woman and call her a man" (Sophocles 13). Critics, to this day, still argue about who is the tragic hero of Antigone. Many say that Antigone is the heroin and others say that it is Creon. The definition of the word protagonist, "one who is a leader or supporter of a cause", supports the argument in favor of Antigone. By insisting that her brother requires a burial, she is fighting for the law of the gods whereas Creon simply exhibits stubbornness and cruelty.

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