Antigone Tragic Hero Argumentative Essay

Here are a range of responses to this question. URL's provided. The reason I have not just included links here is the current filtering at school which seems to filter anything with "free essay". Grr.


Sophocles' Antigone

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.


Antigone Essays

Good site. Each * Name is a link.
Free essays on the play Antigone
* Absolute power struggle
No votes or comments yet
* Antigone
Votes: 1, No comments yet
* Antigone
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* Antigone
1.75 out of 5 Votes: 4, Comments: 1
* Antigone
1.00 out of 5 Votes: 1, No comments yet
* Antigone - Importance of gender in the opening scene
No votes or comments yet
* Antigone - Pride and Conflict of Law
No votes or comments yet
* Antigone - Selfish
No votes or comments yet
* Antigone: Creon’s Flaws
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* Antigone: Divine Law vs. Human Law
2.25 out of 5 Votes: 2, No comments yet
* Antigone: Gender Issues
No votes or comments yet
* Creon: A monarch within his rights
No votes or comments yet
* Empathy for Characters in Sophocle's Antigone
No votes yet, Comments: 1
* Gender Issues in Antigone
2.00 out of 5 Votes: 3, No comments yet
* How the Choices of the Characters Affected Each Other
Votes: 2, No comments yet
* Sisters
5.00 out of 5 Votes: 1, Comments: 1
* Sophocles vs. Euripides
No votes or comments yet
* The Tragic Hero in Antigone
No votes or comments yet
* The True Tragic Hero in Sophocles' Antigone
3.92 out of 5 Votes: 6, No comments yet
* Theme in Antigone
3.50 out of 5 Votes: 4, No comments yet
* Tragic Hero
No votes or comments yet

I've been looking for this all over the place: what is Antigone's tragic
flaw?!? The way I see it, Oedipus's is his pride. He seems totally bent on
finding out the truth and refuses to listen to other people's advise to let
it rest. Creon's is also pride (am I right here?). He's so convinced that
he's right that he stops listening to anybody opposing him. I think that
Antigone's is maybe pride, but I'm not sure. I'd really appreciate if you
would help me out, give me a hint, anything! Thanks a lot!!People always think that because Aristotle said a tragic hero's downfall should be due to a "tragic flaw" (hamartia), and Aristotle admired King Oedipus above all tragedies, therefore Oedipus must have a "flaw". [This is a false premise under Aristotle's very own logic.]
And so they have struggled to find one!
Could it have been his bad temper? (No, he was quite justified in his rage at Creon and Tiresias, having good reasons to suspect them of plotting against him)
Could it have been his murderous temperament, in killing an old man in a chariot? (No, he had good reason once more, and any Greek would have criticised him for NOT killing the irritating old boy)
Could Laius have been under divine protection as he was going to Delphi? The hamartia would then be killing a divinely protected person (Nothing in the text to indicate this)
Could it have been his carelessness - surely anyone told about killing his father and sleeping with his mother would have avoided killing ANY man and sleeping with ANY woman? (No - Oedipus knew who his parents were - as he thought, and took all reasonable precautions to avoid "accidentally" doing deeds which no sane person could imagine himself doing anyway)
Could it have been his pride and arrogance - fuelled by his success with the Sphinx? (no - he includes himself in the curse he made, and is more than anxious to find the truth)
Could it have been his fatal curiosity, inquiring into matters best left unexplored? (Surely not - neither Greeks of 5th century BC nor ourselves would have seen this as a fault - "the truth is out there". The truth may be unpalatable or dangerous, but it is better than ignorance).
Concusion? Forget Aristotle - a scientist trying to find a scientific analysis for the unanalysable. How many plays actually conform to his rules? Only King Oedipus comes near - and not even that has a tragic hero with a tragic flaw!
I wrote this a while ago to someone asking about Oedipus' flaw: the same applies to Creon and Antigone. The whole business of "tragic flaws" is something that English and Drama teachers have got hold of from some book they read when they were students - no one these days who has actually studied Greek tragedy believes there is any such thing. Do you worry about tragic flaws when you see a movie? Of course not - there are more important things (which Aristotle correctly identified) - plot and character. Each character in tragedy is unique, and the reasons for their suffering are unique to them. Read Antigone again trying to find her uniqueness, and you'll start to understand the reasons why we feel for her.
Well done for not being able to find the flaw in Antigone, then - the reason is there is none!
PS No Greek would understand "pride" as a flaw! Just as in Black Pride or Gay Pride - the Greeks saw pride as a positive thing. The nearest is hybris - which means believing you are free to abuse those weaker than yourself (ie behaving like a god!).

VCCS Litonline Introduction to Literature
English 112 (English Composition II)
Home Up
Student Essays on Antigone
Epinions, a website for selling books (and other items), currently (July, 2002) lists 3 "reviews" of a new translation. None of the three mention the translation, but each goes on at length reviewing the story, characters, and themes.
"Destipele" mentions that the play might have been popular in its day because of the political situation in Athens, with the city edging toward war. He also points out several themes before ending whining about how thinly the characters are portrayed.
"Nafeez" of Toronto has written an essay on Antigone and Creon, claiming they were transformed by fear from stubborn and close-minded opponents to "open-minded." But both change too late.
The third review loses credibility by citing the wrong city--twice--as the setting for the play. But the writer does observe that Antigone was probably a physically strong woman, as well as an emotionally strong person--although it doesn't take a lot of physical strength to scatter dust over a body. shows some of the more mediocre high-school and first-year college essays in its red level. These can be viewed for free. Here is a selection of the thesis ideas from that collection if red level essays. (In June and July, 2002, 88 essays were available on Antigone at this website, over a third at the red level for free viewing. Unfortunately, many of these listings are duplicates, and even some of the essays are virtually the same essay but with different titles.) In most cases that I find worth mentioning, I am disagreeing with the essays.
The Tragic Hero in Antigone
Of the essays that follow this red herring argument over whether Creon or Antigone or another character best fulfills Aristotle's definition, a few can be seen to summarize the entire argument fairly readily.
The True Tragic Hero in Antigone picks Creon because he changes and has a recognition of his error that was brought on by pride. Antigone doesn't, supposedly.
One of the yellow essays claims that Antigone could be a tragic figure in the modern sense of something happening to her but not in the Aristotelian sense because "she didn't have any faults." Of course, there's plenty of hybris in Antigone; that's part of what causes her to commit suicide. In addition--
Exposing the Human Condition in Antigone points out that Antigone lacked faith that the gods would respond to Creon's abomination [as they did to the abomination of not seeking the killer of former king Lauis by putting a plague on the city until the killer--Oedipus--was found. Of course, several years passed before that plague was sent to the city].
Antigone, Ismene, and Haemon asserts that Ismene and Haemon act as foil characters who serve to deepen the characterization of Antigone and cause her to be seen as a person who is loved and lovable. [Unfortunately, Antigone treats both so coldly that she appears not to be loving, and this coldness reduces sympathy for her in the hearts of many readers.]
Tragic Hero in Antigone asserts that the title character is the protagonist and glosses over or explains away aspects of Aristotle's definition (without mentioning Aristotle) and adds other aspects of heroism, e.g. suffering hardship.
Bottom Line: After reading too many of these student essays and abstracts, I reach the conclusion that Antigone is certainly the PROTAGONIST of the play that bears her name; a case can be made that she is proud and that she recognizes in her last speech what her stubbornness will cost her. But her wrong act was committing suicide, at least in part as an act of defiance over Creon's tyranny. On the other hand, Creon is too malevolent to be a "tragic hero" in the Aristotelian sense of a good person who suffers a downfall due to pride and recognizes their error. If Creon pitted Eteocles and Polynices against each other and directed a decree at Antigone to solidify his new power, he is Iago, not Othello, a tyrant, not a king.
The play itself offers nothing to support this "back story" of intrigue. If someone wants Creon to be a tragic hero, he or she will have to write a play about Creon's years as regent to show how a good man who did not want power during Oedipus the King (if we can believe the words he said to save his neck from Oedipus' anger) became corrupted enough to plot the demise of Oedipus' spawn so that he could rule unopposed--or a sequel to Antigone in which Creon displays "wisdom" now that his stubbornness and anti-feminism (or his plotting) have caused the deaths of his second son and his wife.
Politics and Citizenship
The essays I see on politics and citizenship invariably fail to ask WHY DID CREON AIM A DECREE AT ANTIGONE. In asserting Creon's power and overlooking the fact that Creon does reverse himself and buries Polynices himself, these essays sound no smarter than the chorus of elders, even if they acknowledge that Antigone acts justly.
That Family!
In addition to the essay that suggested Ismene and Haemon are foils who contrast with Antigone but also show that she is loved, other essays point out that Antigone and Creon are both proud and stubborn and another essay adds irrational. Ismene and Antigone are comparable in many ways, according to at least one essay.
Antigone and Other Female Protagonists
How are Antigone and Emily Grierson alike and different? Both are the children of dead fathers who's family name influences their actions and how people react to them. Both shows some personality traits of their fathers. To consider this comparison and contrast further, take a look at Importance of Family in Antigone and "A Rose for Emily"; unfortunately, the writer uses the "block" method and so writes two character studies without drawing all of the parallels directly.
How are Antigone and Mrs. Hale from Trifles alike and different? Both commit acts of civil disobedience, but Antigone is brazen about it while Mrs. Hale is more clandestine. Both are dealing with men who are fools--or worse, and both act to save someone else.
Symbolism in Antigone
One of the hidden essays suggests in its abstract that Antigone represents nature while Creon represents law--and that these correspondences are played up by shifting motifs of light (good) and dark (disagreeable to the gods). See the abstract, but keep your credit card away from your computer--unless you know how to credit sources better than the writer of this paper.

Back Up
This instructional web was made in July, 2002, by Prof. Eric Hibbison

Antigone can be considered a tragic heroine because she possesses the following defining traits as set by Aristotle's Poetics:

  1. The tragic hero possesses an error of judgment (hamartia).
  2. This reversal of fortune is brought about because of the hero's error in judgment (peripeteia).
  3. The tragic hero possesses excessive pride (hubris).
  4. The fate of the tragic hero is not entirely deserved.

Questions arise about Antigone's role as the tragic heroine because it is Creon, not Antigone, who experiences one of Aristotle's conditions: a reversal of fortune (peripeteia) in which justice plays a role. In the end, Creon regrets that he has been blinded by his pride and that the unjust edict he has issued has resulted from his bad judgment. Antigone experiences no such reversal of fortune because she is aware from the beginning of the path her actions will take. 

However, all the other conditions set by Aristotle hold for Antigone:

1. She buries her brother in defiance of the law, insisting that she answers to divine law. Thus, she commits what Aristotle termed hamartia, "an act of injustice." She tells Creon: 

It was not God's proclamation. That final justice
That rules the world below makes no such laws. (Sc. 2)

2. Her reversal of fortune results from her act of defying the edict of Creon. He then accuses her of "barefaced anarchy." He has Antigone locked "in a vault of stone" for this act of disobedience. There she hangs herself with a noose made from her fine linen veil. (Exodus)

3. Antigone demonstrates excessive pride, arrogantly refusing to obey the prohibitions against burying her brother Polyneices.

4. Antigone's fate is somewhat undeserved. Her noble act of love, though in defiance of Creon's edict, should not have resulted in her imprisonment in a vault and subsequent death because Creon himself erred in judgment in forming his edict. 

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