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A tragic hero is a literary character who makes a judgement error that inevitably leads to his or her own destruction. Every Greek tragedy must have a tragic hero. In Sophocles’ play, Antigone, that tragic hero is Creon. He possesses the tragic flaws of excessive pride and being pretentious. This causes the tragic reversal that leads to his emotional ruin with not only himself but also his family. The conflict was that Creon created a law in which enabled Polyneices, Antigone’s brother, to be buried in an improper way. Antigone thought it was her right to bury her brother causing her to disobey the law of Thebes. Between Creon and Antigone it’s clear that the strength of a family lies in its loyalty to each other.
Creon’s stubbornness, excessive pride, and oversized ego are his biggest flaws that would eventually create his downfall. Haemon, Creon’s son, and him are fighting about Antigone and her fate. Haemon being Antigone’s soon to be husband wants his father to let it go and not punish her, but Creon’s need to be right and power proves to be more important than his son’s happiness. As Haemon continues to make his point he says to Creon, “So don’t let your mind dwell on just one thought, that what you say is right and nothing else. A man who thinks that only he is wise, that he can speak and think like no one else, when such men are exposed, then all can see their emptiness inside.” Haemon is saying Creon is being dumb for thinking he is impeccable and that he is the only one who thinks he is right. Also Haemon is stating that if you open Creon up there is nothing but an empty heart who doesn’t care for other people’s feelings. Creon’s stubbornness against his own son is a significant sign of his downfall as a tragic hero.
Creon’s interactions with Antigone reveals that his reasoning is based more on sexism, not on rationality. In one of their interactions Creon interrogates Antigone about her actions. Antigone being herself defends her ground showing no weakness to Creon and disrespecting him as a king. Creon thrown off about the attitude Antigone is giving him goes off on her and threatens her and states, “ Then go down to the dead. If you must love, love them. No women’s going to govern me- no,no – not while I’m still alive,.” Creon does not want to be challenged by some girl so he sends her to death without no remorse. Antigone’s constant smug remarks pushed Creon to his limits making him reveal his flaws. Creon is at a crossroads with Antigone, not knowing what to do with her. Creon admits to himself that he must punish Antigone or risk losing his authority and even his manhood. He cannot answer her argument rationally, so he must get rid of her. “ She laughs at what she’s done. Well, in this case, if she gets her way and goes unpunished, then she’s the man here, not me,” Creon seethes, and his rage propels him into action that will ultimately doom his whole family. The final decision that Creon must make is whether or not to kill Antigone. Creon would be doing the right thing, but it would show that he was wrong with his decision of his new law and he does not want to admit that he was wrong. These flaws that Creon possesses contributes to his development of being a tragic hero.
Creon’s actions not only affected him but also his family and their loyalty to each other. In the play it is very clear that Antigone is very loyal to her family no matter the consequences which cannot be said for Creon’s family. Creon’s action about killing Antigone drove his own son and wife to kill themselves. Haemon begged his father to not kill Antigone but Creon’s need to be right was far much important than his loyalty to his son. Haemon’s death contributed to Creon’s wife death because she couldn’t bare the thought of her son gone. After Creon heard the horrible news something changed about him as he stated, I killed you, my son, without intending to, and you, as well, my wife. How useless i am now. I don’t know where to look or find support. Everything I touch goes wrong, and on my head fate climbs up with its overwhelming load.” Creon’s disloyalty to his family brought him to his worst nightmare. He realized what a huge mistake he has done and regrets it. He is useless now with no support of his family. Creon’s realization that his family died because of him proves that Creon’s loyalty to them was non-existent making him weak as a person and a king.
The strength of a family depends on the trust in each other. The message that can be learned here is that a family can only grow stronger when everyone in that family trusts and supports another. Creon’s downfall was needed to prove the overall message because he was the only one that his family didn’t support, which weakened him in the long run. The play Antigone still applies in today’s society because we all have families, small or large, and no matter what, families will always be stronger together.
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