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Characteristic of Creon in Sophocle's Antigone

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Creon as the Tragic Hero

Antigone and Creon are characters in the Greek tragedy Antigone. The author is a Greek tragedian named Sophocles. In this play, Sophocles illustrates how Antigone, the main character, is in conflict with Creon, her powerful uncle. Antigone’s uncle Creon is an ignorant and oppressive king of Thebes. Antigone and Creon both display the characteristics of a tragic hero in the text. Creon has displayed and demonstrated many of the characteristics of a tragic hero, unlike Antigone who exhibit few characteristics of a tragic hero. Tragedy according to Aristotle is, “is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in an appropriate and pleasurable language in a dramatic rather than narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish a catharsis of these emotions.” By this, Aristotle meant that for an action to be tragic, the action must be a serious one and of great importance. After a tragic quarrel between his two nephews, Eteocles and Polyneices Creon took over the throne and became the king of Thebes. Creon cannot be classified as either good or bad based on his character despite his crude and harsh governing style. Creon is, therefore, the tragic hero in the play Antigone.

Creon qualifies as the tragic hero because of the noble position he held in his society. His self-pride, and ambitions make Creon qualify under Aristotle’s doctrine of tragedy as the tragic hero. As the king, his actions were considered to be serious and of great importance.

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In Antigone, Creon is considered to be an antagonist king. One of the actions that qualify Creon as an antagonist king is manifested in this quote, “…Polyneices, I say, is to have no burial: no man is to touch him or say the least prayer for him; he shall lie on the plain, unburied; and the birds and the scavenging dogs can do with him whatever they like. ” (Sophocles, 43-46; Ch. 1). This quote clearly illustrates how Creon was ambitious and ruthless because after receiving the news of the death of the defiant Polyneices. He ordered that no one should burry him because he will just bring bad omen to the Thebans. Creon is perceived to be a superior Theban regardless of very many negative things and comments that he made.

Creon is so proud of himself and takes pride in his actions and decisions. From the play, Creon said proudly, “You forget yourself! You are speaking to your King,” (Sophocles, 66; Ch. 5). From this excerpt, Creon clearly displays his superiority hence making him the tragic hero. Creon’s nobility was derived from the fact that he was the brother of the former king of Thebes Oedipus. Quoted by Choragus, “But now, at last, is our new King is coming: Creon of Thebes, Menoikeus’ son,” (Sophocles, 1-2; Ch. 1). It is from this that it is understood that Creon was brought up in a noble family and he belonged to the higher social class if compared to other Thebans. When addressing his servants, Creon said that, “Unfortunately, as you know, his two sons, the princes Eteocles and Polyneices have killed each other in battle; and I, as the next in blood, have succeeded to the full owner of the throne,” (Sophocles, 15-19; Ch. 1) It is from the quote that Creon’s nobility is derived from. The nobility character in the life of Creon makes him the tragic hero even though it made him become a mean and greedy, Fagles, Robert (1986). The character of self-pride is the strongest feature that makes Creon a tragic hero. The way he conducted himself throughout the text reveals that Creon was indeed a tragic hero.

This quote from Creon helps support the reasoning behind the argument: “Good. That is the way to behave: subordinate everything else, my son, to your father’s will,” (Sophocles, 13-14; Ch.3). The tragic of flaw self-pride is a very clear explanation of another instance that portrays Creon as the tragic hero of the Greek tragedy, Antigone. Creon was portrayed by the author, Sophocles as the tragic hero of his Greek Tragedy, Antigone with the aim to pass a point that not all heroes had to please and gain favors to qualify to be a hero, (Rose, J.L., 1952). Towards the end of the play, Creon admits, “…I have been rash and foolish. I have killed my son and my wife,” (Sophocles Exodus. 142-143). From this quote, it is clear how unpleasant Creon was but he doesn’t have the understanding of how unpleasant and imprudent his actions were. This argument, therefore, affirms my position that Creon is the tragic hero of Antigone.

In conclusion, Creon’s characteristics that make him the tragic hero include his pride and his ambitions. These features make him affirm Aristotle’s definition of tragedy (Rosenfield, K.H., 2010). These paramount features that manifest in the life of Creon make him the major character and Antigone the minor character. Antigone doesn’t take pride and has taken the inferior position based on divine standards and of less significance in the Thebes society. Antigone was considered the princess of the Thebes society but she never took the center stage. Despite the fact that some analysts believe that Antigone is the protagonist and the tragic hero, Creon is the tragic hero in the Greek play, Antigone because of the three characteristics: Pride, ambitions, and jealousy.


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