Creon, The Tragic Hero of Sophocles AntigoneEvery Greek tragedy must have a tragic hero. In Sophocles play, Antigone, the most tragic hero is Creon. He is an essentially good man of high position who takes pride in his role as king.
He possesses the tragic flaws of excessive pride and an oversized ego. This causes the tragic reversal that leads to his emotional ruin and eventual remorse and repentance. As King of Thebes, Creon is forced to make difficult decisions. As a new ruler, he feels it is necessary to prove himself to his citizens, therefore he rules his state with a firm hand.
He believes that Polyneices should not be buried because he was a traitor to his country and family. Creon knew this decision would be hard on some people, but did not anticipate how greatly it would affect his niece, Antigone. Because Antigone goes against Creons will and law and buries her brother, she forces him into a position where he again has to make a difficult decision. He must choose to kill his own family member and uphold the law, or punish her less severely and show that he was wrong in a previous decision.
Creons pride does not allow him show leniency toward Antigone, and he arrogantly defends his decision by stating, whoever may be the man appointed by the city, that man must be obeyed in everything, little or great, just or unjust (line 608). Creons arrogance and pride is the tragic flaw that leads to his inevitable downfall. He does not hand down a just sentence to Antigone because he wants to protect his image. He says, if she triumphs and goes unpunished, I am no man she is (line 441). In addition, Creon also has an inaccurate view of his place in relation to the gods.
He believes that mans laws are more important than the laws of the gods. Antigone tries to defend her decision to bury her brother by proclaiming, I do not think your edicts have such power that they can override the laws of heavenIf I transgressed these laws because I feared the arrogance of man, how to the gods could I make satisfaction (line 408)? Creons hubris causes him to think that he must put Antigone to death because she chooses to follow the gods laws over his. Many people try to warn him and beg him to reconsider. First, Haemon tries to appeal to his fathers sense of reason when he says, The gods have given men the gift of reason, greatest of all things that we call our owndo not feel your word, and yours alone, must be correct (line 625). Creon, because of his pride, becomes furious with his young son for trying to teach him wisdom, and says, One thing is certain: You are going to pay for taunting and insulting me (line 709).
Next, Tiresias comes to warn him that he stands upon the brink of ruin (line 918). But Creon refuses to heed his warning and accuses Tiresias of profiteering. Finally, after Tiresiass doomful prophecy, the Chorus tries to change the Kings mind. At first Creon resists the advisement of the chorus by stating To yield is bitter. But to resist and bring a curse on my pride is no less bitter (line 1025).
But the Chorus eventually convinces him to release Antigone from the tomb in which she is imprisoned. Unfortunately, Creon realizes his hubris and his wrong decision a little too late. He discovers that Antigone is already dead, and watches as his son takes his own life. As he mourns his loss and wallows in guilt he receives word from the messenger that his wife, Eurydice, cursed his name as she committed suicide. In the process of going from ignorance to knowledge, he loses Antigone, his wife, and his son. Although he is unable to absolve the tragedy that has occurred all his suffering humbles him as he states, My lesson has been bitter and complete (line 1203).
Creon, by definition, is the most tragic hero in the play Antigone. Creon is a man of high position and he is an essentially good person, .