Creon as Tragic Hero

In the Greek play Antigone, Creon and Antigone can both be claimed the title of Tragic Hero. Creon was made king when Oedipus Rex fled the kingship. Creon is the brother in law of Oedipus, and was giving the kingship only because Oedipus’s sons, Eteocles and Polyneices were killed trying to fight for the thrown. Antigone is Oedipus’s daughter and Creon’s niece. When it comes down to who the tragic hero is, Creon most definitely walks away with the title. A tragic hero by definition is ordinary person neither good nor bad, is in a better social standing, falls to misfortune, and contains a tragic flaw.

This person goes through a series of reversals all the way up till they make an error in judgment. After their error in judgment they soon go to the final reversal stage. The final reversal leads to the downfall, death, or psychological downfall of the person. When reading Antigone, right away you think Antigone is the main character because she is named after the play. This makes it easier to see why people believe she is the tragic hero. She may be a hero to her family and to the gods, but she is not the tragic hero. “Dear god, shout it from the rooftops.

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I’ll hate you/all the more for silence – tell the world! ” (Sophocles 100-01)This quote explains how Antigone believes she is going to be a hero and should be praised for what she has done. Just because Antigone is one of the main characters doesn’t mean she is the tragic hero. When it came down to being an ordinary person, Antigone fits the bill. She was in fact a princess, but a princess whose father sentenced himself to exile. She is held to a better social standing then most but not as great as King Creon. Antigone is considered to have the tragic flaw of excess ambition, “I’ll bury him myself. And even if I die in the act, that death will be a glory. ” (Sophocles 85-6) Here you see that Antigone is showing her ambition by defying king Creon. Ambition is one trait that is shown in most people, but pride is more of a unique trait. Pride happens to be Creon’s tragic flaw. Antigone not only fell to misfortune, but also went through a small series of reversals that lead to her death. “Courage! Live your life. I gave myself to death,/ long ago, so I might serve the dead. ” (Sophocles 6331-32) In this quote you can see Antigone choosing her fate.

She already pre choose the fact of not living anymore. A small series of reversals that Antigone goes through are when Antigone starts to fights with Creon and well as her sister, Ismene. Toward the beginning of the tragedy, Ismene and Antigone starting fighting over the fact of who’s going to stand up to king Creon, and dethrone the other. One of the main things in this in a tragedy is when the tragic hero discovers that his tragic flaw caused his or her downfall, and that they learn from their downfalls. Antigone did not learn from her mistakes, and just went on with killing herself.

Creon is the real tragic hero. Creon was known as the antagonist in Antigone. “No, he must be left unburied, his corpse/ carrion for the birds and dogs to tear,/ an obscenity for the citizens to behold! ” (Sophocles329-31) Though Creon is known for having negative actions, he is still seen and still superior to everyone. Creon tells Antigone that his only interests are political and social order. By understanding this Creon is easier to see as a whole. His only interest is in having social and political power, so this detours the fact of Creon being evil.

The only reason he had to kill Antigone was so he can prove his power so he can be more socially accepted and feared. If people were afraid of Creon this would make the kingdom run smoother because no one would want to disobey the king because they know that whatever the king says goes. Creon is proud of his social standings and is prideful of his city and his decisions. Creon said proudly, “Still talking? / You talk too much! A born nuisance-“ (Sophocles 363) Creon shows his superiority all the way in this quote.

Creon was just an ordinary man because he was only the brother of the former king and nothing else. When talking to his servants, “… Now then,/ since the two sons are dead – two blows of fate/ in the same day, cut down by each others hands,/ both killers, both brothers stained with blood -/ as I am next to kin to the dead,/ I now possess the throne and all its powers. ” (Sophocles 188-93) Here you can see that Creon is prideful on getting the new throne. This new throne makes Creon instantly a very greedy and ungenerous person, his character fits a part of the perfect definition of a tragic hero.

The series of reversals that lead up to Creon’s error in judgment is when Creon : One, let pride rule him and not himself. Two, when Creon just blew past the sentry when the century was trying to warm Creon. Three, when Creon was confronted by Antigone and Antigone told Creon to kill her because her death will be greatly appreciated by the gods. Four, when he totally ignored Tiresias the blind prophet. Five, his final realization of the fact that he lets his pride rule and what has just happened to his kingdom.

Creon wanted to be a strong ruler so everyone can start taking him serious. Thus this sense of Hubris came out of him. According to Aristotle’s elements of tragedy hubris is the use of too much power or too much pride. Creon blew past the sentries warning when the sentry days, “ Oh it’s terrible when the one who does the judging/ judges things all wrong. ” (Sophocles 367) Right here you can see that the sentry is mocking Creon because Creon thinks that people are getting paid to tell him things and doesn’t accept the truth of his pride.

Also when Creon totally ignored the blind prophet when the prophet said, “ …your own flesh and blood,/ a corpse for a corpse given in return,…” (Sophocles 1185-86) Here you can see the prophet warning Creon of not just one person’s death but a death for a death. This explains when Antigone died on her own and that lead to the death a Haemon. Haemon’s death the go word to his mother and then his mother killed herself, so right there is your death for a death. Of the many characteristics that can describe Creon, prideful is one of the strongest descriptions of him.

Throughout this play you can see Creon’s tragic flaw very clearly, self-pride. Creon’s pride got him into very bad situations and at the same time made him pay for having too much pride, but a tragic hero has the ability to learn from their own actions. Creon learned from his actions, had Antigone learned from hers? This quote from Creon helps support the reasoning behind the argument: “And the guilt is all mine -/ can never be fixed on another man, no escape for me. I killed you,/ I, god help me, I admit it all! (Sophocles 1442-45) Other ways Creon had to pay for his consequences were when: one, Creon’s son’s bride killed herself, Antigone. Two, Creon had to see his son die. Three, when Creon realizes that his wife died because of the deaths of his son and his bride. Lastly, Creon has to deal with knowing it was his fault and his hand that killed two people he loved dearly. “I murdered you, my son, against my will-/you too, my wife…/ wailing wreck of a man,/ whom to look to? Where to lean for support? ” (Sophocles . 1461-64) This here can be argued as the final reversal, or the realization of what he has done.

You can see that Creon just lost two people he loved dearly and has no one to look to anymore. As stated in previous sections of this essay, Creon demonstrates the characteristics of a tragic hero better than Antigone. For instance, did most Thebans look more up to King Creon or Antigone? Creon is the King of Thebes; he is superior to the city. “Never at my hands/ will the traitor be honored above the patriot. / But whoever proves his loyalty to the state: / I’ll prize that man in death as well as life. ” (Sophocles 232-35) This shows Creon’s authority.

Antigone may have once been superior, but that all went out the door when her father, Oedipus was sentenced to exile. Creon’s character again proves that he is the tragic hero by his higher social standings. Who is nobler: the brother of the former king and the current king, or the daughter of the former king? As stated in the earlier Creon’s self-pride is a more unique trait then simple ambition/ Sophocles made Creon the tragic hero of his Greek Tragedy, Antigone because he desired to make a point that not all heroes had to be pleasant and favored to be a hero.

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Creon as Tragic Hero. (2016, Oct 23). Retrieved from