Antigone: Who Is The Tragic Hero?

Charles Woerner

The debate over who is the tragic hero in Antigone continue on to this
day. The belief that Antigone is the hero is a strong one. There are many
critics who believe, however, that Creon, the Ruler of Thebes, is the true
protagonist. I have made my own judgments also, based on what I have researched
of this work by Sophocles.
Antigone is widely thought of as the tragic hero of the play bearing her
name. She would seem to fit the part in light of the fact that she dies in
doing what is right. She buries her brother without worrying what might happen
to her. She "Takes into consideration death and the reality that may be beyond
death" (Hathorn 59). Those who do believe that Antigone was meant to be the
true tragic hero argue against others who believe that Creon deserves that honor.
They say that the Gods were against Creon, and that he did not truly love his
country. "His patriotism is to narrow and negative and his conception of justice
is too exclusive... to be dignified by the name of love for the state" (Hathorn
59). These arguments, and many others, make many people believe the Antigone is
the rightful protagonist.
Many critics argue that Creon is the tragic hero of Antigone. They say
that his noble quality is his caring for Antigone and Ismene when thier father
was persecuted. Those who stand behind Creon also argue that Antigone never had
a true epiphany, a key element in being a tragic hero. Creon, on the other hand,
realized his mistake when Teiresias made his prophecy. He is forced to live,
knowing that three people are dead because of his ignorance, which is a
punishment worse than death.
My opinion on this debate is that Antigone is the tragic hero. She
tries to help her brother without worrying about what will happen to her. She
says, "I intend to give my brother burial. I'll be glad to die in the attempt,
-if it's a crime, then it's a crime that God commands" (Sophocles 4). She was
also punished for doing what was right. Her epiphany came, hidden from the
audience, before she hung herself. Creon's "nobleness" of taking in young
Antigone and Ismene is overshadowed by his egotistical nature. He will not
allow justice to come about simply because he wants to protect his image. He
says, "If she gets away with this behavior, call me a woman and call her a man"
(Sophocles 13). These elements prove that Antigone is the tragic hero.
Creon, understanding his ignorance may lead one to believe that he is
the true protagonist. But, if you define the word protagonist you would find
that a protagonist is one who is a leader or supporter of a cause. Antigone is
in support of her own actions in the burial of her brother Polyneices. She
entrusts that she is doing what the Gods want, contrary to the belief of Creon.
Many readers and critics may say Creon suffered greator hardships. Some may say
Antigone never had an epiphany. Who would understand it if their own brother
were left to the birds and dogs. There would be no rational thinking involved
in a act like this. These are arguments envolved in deciding who is the tragic
hero of Antigone.
Critics, to this day, still argue about who is the tragic hero of
Antigone. Many say that Antigone is the heroin. Others say that it is Creon.
My research favors Antigone as the perfect protagonist. No matter who the
reader sides with, it is agreed by most that there is a valid argument either
way, in light of the fact that they both endure great hardships.

Category: English