Antigone: Tragic Figure Essay

Out of all the characters in the tale Antigone, I saw Creon as the perfect example of a Tragic Figure. While the play itself is titled Antigone, the tragic hero in this story is no other than Creon. Creon the anti-hero in the story, faces many conflicts internally and externally as well as changes in his opinions, emotions, and beliefs as the story progresses. People might say that Antigone is the tragic figure in the story. But as Aristotle said, ‘A man doesn’t become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall.’ Creon realizes his faults and the mistakes he’s made, while Antigone does not, she has only one opinion in the play, and that is what separates Creon from his niece, Antigone, making him a tragic hero.

Sophocles, the author of Antigone is one of the three ancient Greek playwrights whose plays have survived up to today. He was also the one who gave greek tragedies their traditional form, including using three actors instead of two and giving the presence of a tragic hero. A tragic hero is someone who is usually of noble birth, has a flaw or error in their judgement(known as hamartia),a reverse in fortune brought because of the hero’s error in judgment(known as peripeteia),the discovery or recognition that the reversal was brought by the hero’s own actions (Known as anagnorisis), an excessive pride (known as hubris), and their fate must be greater than deserved. A tragic hero must also not be better or worse morally than normal people, because that way the audience seems to sympathize with them greater. They must also strike empathy and fear in the audience, be destined for downfall, suffering, defeat or an undeserved fate, and be faced with a very serious decision that they have to make. Those factors all apply to Creon and make him a tragic figure.

Some argue that Antigone could indeed be the tragic figure in the play. After all, the majority of the story is centered around her. And because of her actions, the story wouldn’t have played out the way it did. It all started out with her burying her brother Polyneices, even though she was instructed by the law not to do so. But she did it because she believes in the divine law or the law of the gods. This is an example of hamartia. During this time she tells Creon, “I dared. It was not god’s proclamation, that final justice, That rules the world below make such laws.”(Scene two.) She is also very stubborn and excessively prideful, refusing to obey the law, and burying her brother. This is an example of hubris. And most importantly she has a very cruel and undeserved fate. All she did was a noble act of love, and it resulted in Creon making an error in his judgment, so he imprisoned her in a vault which leads her to kill herself. Creon even admits that he had done wrong, “It is right that it should be. I alone am Guilty. I know it and I say it.”(Scene five) Antigone never had a true downfall because she didn’t lose anything after the story began. And she didn’t have an anagnorisis either nor a change of heart. Because she does not have these factors so she is not a tragic figure.

At the beginning of the play, Creon is portrayed by Sophocles as a fair, noble, just, and law-oriented leader. He has his morals and his reasons for the laws that he makes, and his punishments that are appointed to anyone who breaks them. But on the other hand, he is very ill-tempered and extremely stubborn. He believes his word is law and everyone else’s thoughts, opinions, and suggestions are unnecessary for him as a person and a ruler. He believes that he has to be a figure whom people look up to, a person who has strength and power. But a strong leader should also be able to recognize their faults when they make a mistake.

He sadly does not possess this quality. When Teiresias explains about his fate to come and suggests that he fix the ways he responds with“Whatever you say, you will not change my will.”(Scene five) His excessive pride or hubris is exactly what leads him to his downfall at the end of the play. He did not think that his actions had any major consequences until it was already too late to change his fate. He can not change his miscalculation in his judgment that he made or hamartia. It was only after Antigone was imprisoned by being entombed alive, that peripeteia took place, and then Haemon, and Eurydice passed shortly after Antigone. That lead to Creon’s anagnorisis or the realization that he had made a grave mistake. His entire view on the situation changed.

Both Antigone and Creon have good and bad qualities. Antigone is extremely loyal, independent and believes in the good of all people even after their death. “It is in my nature to join in love, not hate.”(Scene Two) But she is also very stubborn and holds on to her beliefs very close to her heart. Creon also has some good qualities, such as him caring for the law, order, his people, and his country. But like Antigone, he is also very stubborn. Both Antigone and Creon’s stubbornness and pride eventually lead to their downfall. But Creon is the one who loses the most in his life, his son Haemon and his wife Eurydice.

All because of “miscalculation” that he made. Ultimately it is Creon who is the true tragic figure in Antigone. He has met all the requirements that make a tragic figure. Due to his Hamartia, he experienced his downfall. He once had it all, his wife Eurydice, his children, his crown and his country but he lost it all because of his own stubbornness and pride. Most of the time being a tragic figure results in losing all things that are good in your life, leaving you with misery and despair.

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Antigone: Tragic Figure Essay. (2021, Jun 18). Retrieved August 5, 2022 , from

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