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A tragic hero is an overall good person who has flaws that lead to their own downfall. The concept of a tragic hero is represented in the drama “Antigone” written by Sophocles. Creon, the king of Thebes, is the tragic hero. The characteristics of Creon, the way he acts, and the decisions he makes, all prove him to be the tragic hero in this drama.
Creon has the traits of an acceptable person. He treats everyone the same and does not even make exceptions for family. Creon speaks angrily, “This girl is guilty of a double insolence, breaking the given laws and boasting of it” (Sophocles 762). This exhibits that he is willing to treat and punish Antigone like he would to any other person who breaks the law. He does this to insure to the people that he is an admirable leader and wants to set a good example. In the same way, Creon does not want to show weakness as a leader. Creon states, “She or I, if this crime goes unpunished?” (762). He is saying that if he shows fear or hesitation, than the people will feel as if they do not have a satisfactory leader. He needs to be assertive and go through with his decisions even if that means punishing his niece. Furthermore, after talking to Haimon, Creon realizes that he should not punish Ismene. Creon says, “No, you are right. I will not kill the one whose hands are clean” (775). Even though Creon is penalizing Antigone for breaking the law, he notices that Ismene is not guilty of anything. This demonstrates that Creon is trying to be as fair as he possibly believes that he can be. He shows mercy by sparing Ismene. All of these actions display evidence of Creon’s goodness as a person.
Creon exhibits good traits but he does acquire flawed traits as well. One of these flawed traits is insensitivity. Haimon utters, “Then she must die- But her death will cause another”(775). Creon later responds, “Bring the woman out! Let her die before his eyes!” (775). Creon expresses no sympathy for Haimon when he says this. He does not care that Haimon will kill himself if Antigone dies. When Creon reacts to this in an anything but delicate approach, it represents his detachment and disinterest in something that does not involve him. Following this further, Creon demonstrates traits of hubris and overconfidence when he denies burial of Polyneices. Creon states, “An enemy is an enemy, even dead”(764). He is hubris because he has excessive pride over his decision. Antigone argues that Creon is Polyneices’ brother and there are honors due to all the dead but Creon still thinks he is right and Polyneices does not deserve a burial. Consequently, Creon indicates that he has the inability to listen to others, especially if they are younger than him. Creon chuckles, “You consider it right for a man of my years and experience to go to school to a boy?” (774). Creon assumes that Haimon is wrong just because he is younger than him. Haimon tries to give Creon advice but Creon does not want to listen. This exhibits that Creon is ruling in his own favor and does not take anyone else’s opinions into consideration. These actions display how Creon’s character is flawed.
Scenes in this drama support evidence of Creon deserving sympathy. Creon finally realizes what he does is wrong. He admits, “Come with me to the tomb. I buried her, I will set her free” (783). Not only does he realize, but he also admits to his mistakes. Creon finally sees that he should bury Polyneices and not punish Antigone, but he comprehends this too late. Moreover, bad timing affects Creon’s plan of freeing Antigone and building a tomb for Polyneices. Messenger states, “She had a noose of her fine linen veil and hanged herself” (786). Creon should have let Antigone free from the cave first because she is still alive and getting punished. Then he should have buried Polynieces because he is already dead and there is nothing you can do for him. After Haimon finds Antigone in the cave, not alive, it triggers two more deaths. Because Antigone commits suicide, Creon loses his wife and Haimon also. Creon cries, “I have killed my son and my wife. I look for comfort; my comfort lies here dead” (789). Creon now has nobody left. He has no niece, no son, and no wife. He has no one to comfort him because of his rash and foolish actions. No doubt, Creon realizes what he has done wrong too late. These actions and events that take place are evidence of Creon being a character that deserves sympathy.
Creon experiences struggles with flaws within his character. These struggles ultimately defeat him in the end but he recognizes what he does wrong. Creon’s characteristics of goodness, characteristics that are flawed, and why he is deserving of sympathy, eventually reassure him to be the tragic hero in this drama. Therefore, one might have to make substantial mistakes in order to recognize the flaws they retain within their own character.
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