Antigone The Tragic Hero There has always been a bit of confusion as to the tragic hero of the Greek Drama Antigone. Many assume that simply because the play is named for Antigone, that she is the tragic hero. However, evidence supports that Creon, and not Antigone, is the tragic hero of the play. Examining the factors that create a Greek Tragedy, and a tragic character, it is clear that the tragic hero is in fact Creon. First, take into account the timeframe in which Antigone was written.
During the time of Sophocles, women were considered second class citizens. They would not even be permitted to act in the drama Antigone. It seems unlikely that Sophocles would choose a woman as the tragic hero of the play. There are certain qualities that a character must posses in order to qualify as a tragic hero. Ideally, the tragic hero is a person of some status, usually king.
Although the fact that Antigone was part of the royal lineage, being a descendent of Oedipus, Creons position of King of Thebes suits a tragic character much more effectively. Also, at the end of the play it is customary for the tragic hero to have lost everything, to be reduced to nothing. At the end of Antigone, Creon had lost his kingdom, his son, his wife, and his will to live, but is doomed to live on in his pain. Antigone loses her life, but it was not a loss in vain, for she did accomplish what she set out to do. It is questionable as to whether Antigone was seeking martyrdom, but she certainly did become one, dying for her beliefs.
The most important characteristic of the tragic hero is the tragic flaw, the one attribute that causes the inevitable downfall of the character. It is argued that Antigones tragic flaw was stubbornness. She is called stubborn in the play by Creon and also by the chorus. Yet, some would call her steadfast, rather than stubborn. A stubborn person would continue to argue even after he or she realized they were wrong.
For Antigone, no such realization was made. In her own eyes, the eyes of the people, and even the eyes of the gods, Antigone was certainly in the right. Creon, on the other hand, possessed a classic flaw, hubris, or excessive pride. Because of his pride, Creon could not hear the sense spoken by his son, or the blind prophet Teresius. He could not let Antigone go unpunished for her crime for fear of looking weak to his kingdom. Thus his own bad decisions mixed with fate caused his downfall. This is an exact description of a tragic hero. Finally, the tragic hero of a Greek Drama realizes too late his bad decision.
This moment of realization, called anagnorisus, never occurred for Antigone, who died righteously. However, Creon does realize his tragic flaw at the end of the play, laments, and but for the good grace of the Chorogus, would have committed suicide, (something tragic heroes are known to do). All things considered, Creon must be the tragic hero of Antigone. He was the only character who met the criteria. The other characters, like the messenger, or Teriseus, or Creons son Haimon are minor characters and are clearly not the tragic heroes of the play. Creon suffered the most, his losses were the greatest, and he was the only character to posses a tragic flaw.
It is safe to assume that the only reason for Antigone ever being considered a tragic hero, is the misleading title of the play.