Character Analysis Essay Example: Tragic Flaws and Deadly Consequences
According to Aristotle, a tragic hero is a literary character who makes a judgment or error that leads them to their own destruction. This has been found to be true in many cases, including Achilles’ case. While fighting in the Trojan War, Achilles believes that he is invincible. This gives him too much self-confidence, which inevitably leads him to his death. His tragic flaw is having hubris, as is Creon’s. Sophocles centers Antigone, around a family who rules the great city of Thebes. In the Greek tragedy, Creon loses everything and everyone he loves due to pride, similar to how Achilles lost his life. When Creon becomes King of Thebes, he makes many irrational decisions, which lead him to his downfall. Although many tell him to rethink his actions, he remains stubborn, making him the play’s tragic hero. Creon’s destructive personality traits are the stimulus for his downfall.
By implementing the decisions that he does, Creon sets many things in motion. Teiresias comes to warn Creon about what will happen if he does not step back from his decisions, but Creon does not listen. “If your birds- if the great eagles of God himself should carry him stinking bit by bit to heaven I would not yield” (232). Although knowing that Teiresias only wants to help and can, in fact, see the future, Creon still states that he shall stand by his decisions. He cannot admit that he is wrong and his hubris will not let him see that he is. As King, Creon believes that he is above all and that his decisions do not have consequences. Even when told by Teiresias that his actions will come with severe punishments, he still remains stubborn. Many warn Creon that unfortunate things may happen, yet he dismisses these warnings because of his ignorance. When Haimon threatens to kill himself because of Antigone’s sentencing, Creon does not care. Creon states, “I swear you’ll regret this superior tone of yours! You are the empty one!” (222). Instead of stepping back and analyzing the situation, Creon adds more fuel to the fire. He insults Haimon and even threatens to kill Antigone in front of Haimon. Creon displays that he would rather lose his only son than seem weak to his people. His need to seem powerful overpowers his love for his family. Though knowing that his actions are what caused this to happen, he still does not stop. Creon lets his hubris, ignorance, and need to assert his dominance take control of his life and rob him of everything he loves.
Creon’s Irrational Decisions
Creon’s pride and stubbornness force him to make many irrational decisions. After the Sentry brings Antigone to Creon, Antigone insults Creon, so he sentences her to death. “Who is the man here, she or I, if this crime goes unpunished” (209). Creon only punishes Antigone because he hurts his masculinity. Creon previously shows that he does not wish to arrest Antigone, but when Antigone fights and disrespects, Creon he decides to kill her. He concludes that the only way to prove he has more power is to arrest her, but Creon does not realize that every decision has its repercussions. Although knowing his laws are unjust, Creon does not cease. What allows him to make these decisions is his hubris. When warned by Teiresias about the consequences of his actions, Creon insults the intelligent man. Creon states, “Teiresias, it is a sorry thing when a wise man sells his wisdom, let out his words for hire!” (232). Though knowing Teiresias is correct, his pride compels him to ignore the advice of the wise. Instead of listening to reason, Creon decides to disrespect the man who only wishes to help. Whenever someone threatens his power or intelligence, Creon always has the need to fire back at them. No matter what happens, Creon’s destructive traits always come out. If Creon had listened to others and thought before acting, Creon’s life could have had a different result, but his hostile personality traits are what determined his depressing outcome.
In the face of massive tragedy, Creon only thinks of himself. Immediately after being informed of his wife’s suicide, Creon grieves only for himself. “O port of death, deaf world, is there no pity for me?” (243). After all the damage is done Creon claims to realize his part in all of this and declares that he has changed, but this is not true. He still, after losing everyone, only thinks of himself. He does not stop to pay his respects to his niece, his son, or his wife. Instead, Creon asks why all of this is happening to him and pities only himself. Creon proves that he does not understand that all of this is his fault. Furthermore, if he really did understand that he was solely responsible for the death of all his loved ones, he would comprehend that he deserves all of this and possibly more. Even after seeing his wife’s dead body, Creon still only sympathizes with himself. “Let it come. Let death come quickly, and be kind to me” (244). Creon does not have any remorse for his actions. Instead of rethinking his actions, and deciding to change his ways, Creon acts egocentrically. If Creon were to really believe that everything that has happened is his own doing, he would wish the worst on himself. He would believe that he deserves a slow and painful death because a quick one would be a blessing. Creon would know that he deserves to suffer, just as Antigone did, but he does not see it that way. The only thing to blame is Creon’s hubris; it is the reason for these feelings, as it pushes him to think of only himself.
Creon is the tragic hero because of his ruinous flaws: pride, selfishness, and stubbornness, which bring about his downfall. He refuses to listen to reason when warned about his actions. Creon does not listen to his own son, even when he threatens to commit suicide. He makes many irrational decisions that lead to countless consequences. After losing everyone and everything, Creon still only thinks of himself. Traits like these make people weak because they can fail them at any second, just as they did Creon. Similar to Creon, many historical figures, like Napoleon Bonaparte, were controlled by hubris. Napoleon made the irrational decision of attacking Russia during the General Winter. This decision killed 90% of his soldiers and was only enforced because he had too much confidence. If someone were to live this way, they would end up with many consequences, just as Creon did. People cannot let traits like pride control their lives. Flaws can play a part in someone’s life, but they do not determine their outcome.