Sophocles’ Antigone Essay, Research Paper

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.

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