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Theme of Hubris in Antigone

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Words: 638 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Mar 19, 2024

Words: 638|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Mar 19, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Creon's Hubris
  2. Antigone's Hubris
  3. Reactions of Other Characters
  4. Conclusion

One of the most prevalent themes in Sophocles' tragedy, Antigone, is the concept of hubris. Hubris, a term originating from ancient Greek literature, refers to excessive pride or arrogance that often leads to the downfall of a tragic hero. In Antigone, this theme is explored through the actions and consequences of the main characters, particularly Creon and Antigone. Through their hubristic behavior, Sophocles highlights the destructive nature of excessive pride and the importance of recognizing and tempering one's own arrogance.

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Creon's Hubris

Creon, the king of Thebes, is a prime example of hubris in the play. After the death of his nephews, Eteocles and Polynices, in a battle for the throne, he proclaims a decree that Polynices, who fought against Thebes, will be left unburied. Creon's decision is fueled by his pride as a ruler, believing that his authority must be upheld at all costs. He states, "Whoever disobeys in the least will die, his doom is sealed: stoning to death inside the city walls" (Sophocles 222). This proclamation displays his arrogance and disregard for the gods' laws, as well as his belief that his own will is superior to divine authority.

Creon's hubris is further evident in his refusal to heed the warnings of his son, Haemon, and the blind prophet, Tiresias. Both individuals advise Creon to reconsider his decision and emphasize the consequences of his prideful actions. Haemon, in a desperate plea to his father, warns, "Death, she is dead. I saw them winding sheets, the new-dug grave, the girl condemned" (Sophocles 250). Despite these warnings, Creon remains steadfast in his belief that he knows best, dismissing the wisdom of others and refusing to acknowledge his own fallibility.

Antigone's Hubris

Antigone, the protagonist of the play, also exhibits hubris through her defiance of Creon's decree. After the death of her brothers, she feels compelled to honor her family and the gods by burying Polynices. Her act of disobedience is driven by her own pride and belief in the superiority of divine laws over human laws. Antigone boldly proclaims, "I do not think your edict has such force that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods, the great unwritten, unshakable traditions" (Sophocles 225). Her conviction in her own righteousness blinds her to the potential consequences of her actions and leads to her tragic demise.

Reactions of Other Characters

In addition to the characters' hubris, Sophocles also explores the theme through the reactions of other characters. Ismene, Antigone's sister, serves as a foil to her hubristic behavior. Initially, Ismene refuses to help bury Polynices, fearing the consequences of defying Creon's decree. However, as the play progresses, she begins to question her own cowardice and ultimately joins Antigone in her act of defiance. Ismene's shift in attitude highlights the dangers of hubris and the importance of recognizing and challenging one's own fears and limitations.

Moreover, the chorus in Antigone serves as a moral compass, offering commentary on the actions and consequences of the characters. Through their songs and speeches, the chorus expresses their disapproval of Creon's arrogance, cautioning against the dangers of excessive pride. They state, "The mighty words of the proud are paid in full with mighty blows of fate, and at long last those blows will teach us wisdom" (Sophocles 237). The chorus serves as a reminder that hubris is not limited to the main characters but is a flaw that can affect anyone.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, the theme of hubris is a central element in Sophocles' Antigone. Through the characters of Creon and Antigone, as well as the reactions of Ismene and the chorus, Sophocles explores the destructive nature of excessive pride. Creon's stubbornness and Antigone's defiance both lead to tragic consequences, highlighting the importance of recognizing and tempering one's own arrogance. By examining the theme of hubris, Sophocles provides timeless lessons about the dangers of unchecked pride and the need for humility and self-reflection.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Theme Of Hubris In Antigone. (2024, March 19). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/theme-of-hubris-in-antigone/
“Theme Of Hubris In Antigone.” GradesFixer, 19 Mar. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/theme-of-hubris-in-antigone/
Theme Of Hubris In Antigone. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/theme-of-hubris-in-antigone/> [Accessed 24 Jun. 2024].
Theme Of Hubris In Antigone [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 19 [cited 2024 Jun 24]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/theme-of-hubris-in-antigone/
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