The debate over who is the tragic hero in Antigone
continue on to this day. The belief that Antigone is the
hero is a strong one. There are many critics who believe,
however, that Creon, the Ruler of Thebes, is the true
protagonist. I have made my own judgments also, based on
what I have researched of this work by Sophocles.
Antigone is widely thought of as the tragic hero of
the play bearing her name. She would seem to fit the part
in light of the fact that she dies in doing what is right.
She buries her brother without worrying what might happen to
her. She "Takes into consideration death and the reality
that may be beyond death" (Hathorn 59). Those who do
believe that Antigone was meant to be the true tragic hero
argue against others who believe that Creon deserves that
honor. They say that the Gods were against Creon, and that
he did not truly love his country. "His patriotism is to
narrow and negative and his conception of justice is too
exclusive... to be dignified by the name of love for the
state" (Hathorn 59). These arguments, and many others, make
many people believe the Antigone is the rightful
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 thier 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.
My opinion on this debate is that Antigone is the
tragic hero. 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 was also punished for doing what was
right. 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 allow justice to come about 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). These elements prove that Antigone is
the tragic hero.
Creon, understanding his ignorance may lead one to
believe that he is the true protagonist. But, if you
define the word protagonist you would find that a
protagonist is one who is a leader or supporter of a cause.
Antigone is in support of her own actions in the burial of
her brother Polyneices. She entrusts that she is doing
what the Gods want, contrary to the belief of Creon. Many
readers and critics may say Creon suffered greator
hardships. Some may say Antigone never had an epiphany. Who
would understand it if their own brother were left to the
birds and dogs. There would be no rational thinking
involved in a act like this. These are arguments envolved
in deciding who is the tragic hero of Antigone.
Critics, to this day, still argue about who is the
tragic hero of Antigone. Many say that Antigone is the
heroin. Others say that it is Creon. My research favors
Antigone as the perfect protagonist. No matter who the
reader sides with, it is agreed by most that there is a
valid argument either way, in light of the fact that they
both endure great hardships.
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