The Tragic Hero Essay Example

The great playwright William Shakespeare once wrote in Troilus and Cressida, “He that is proud eats up himself: pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle.” Shakespeare implies that proud men are the cause of their own fall. In the case of one King Creon, his own pride eats him up and he loses that which he loves most. In the Greek tragedy Antigone, Sophocles portrays Creon as the tragic hero by indicating he has a tragic flaw of hubris, a deprivation of what he loves the most, and a recognition of his own flaw.

First, Sophocles characterizes Creon as the tragic hero by showing he has a tragic flaw of hubris, or excessive pride. In Scene 3, Haemon visits Creon to try and convince him to keep Antigone alive. Haemon compliments Creon and the king replies, “Good. That is the way to behave: subordinate; Everything else, my son, to your father’s will”(lines 11-12). Creon’s pride shows in this quote as he exhibits his belief in sons being loyal and obedient to their fathers. Creon seeks out the blind prophet Teiresias in Scene 5 for advice, but the prophet tells the king that the gods are angry at him. In response, Creon declares, “No Teiresias: if your birds-if the great eagles of God himself-should carry him stinking bit by bit to heaven, I would not yield. I am not afraid of pollution”(lines 45-47). This declaration shows Creon’s pride by stating he will not yield to the gods to prove he is right. As one can see, Creon’s tragic flaw of hubris adds to him being the tragic hero.

Next, Sophocles shows Creon to be the tragic hero when he suffers a tragic downfall by losing what he treasures most. Throughout Antigone, Creon’s love for his family, especially his son, is expressed. In the Exodus, the Messenger sadly tells the Chorus, “When Creon saw him the tears rushed to his eyes; And he called to him: ‘What have you done, child? Speak to me. What are you thinking that makes your eyes so stranger? O my son, my son, I come to you on my knees!’ But Haimon spat in his face. He said not a word, Staring–– And suddenly drew his sword; And lunged. Creon shrank back, the blade missed; and the boy, Desperate against himself, drove it half its length; Into his own side, and fell”(lines 64-72).

This quote emphasizes Creon’s love for his son and how he lost one of the most important things to him. Haemon’s final act of attempting to kill his father is important because of Creon’s belief in a son's obedience to his father and the ultimate disobedience for any son is to kill his father. Also in the Exodus, the Messenger, who somberly informs Creon of his wife’s suicide, says,  “She stood before the altar, and her heart; Welcome the knife her own hand guided. And a great cry burst from her lips for Megareus dead, And for Haimon dead, her sons; and her last breath; Was a curse for their father, the murderer of her sons. And she fell, and the dark flowed in through her closing eyes”(lines 112-117). This quote conveys that Creon’s wife blamed him for everything and the knife through the heart not only symbolizes her broken heart, but Creon’s as well. As shown by Sophocles, Creon is the tragic hero because he suffers a tragic downfall when he loses his family, which is what he cherished most.

Finally, Sophocles conveys that Creon is the tragic hero in Antigone by displaying the fact that he acknowledges his fault and accepts his downfall. After the deaths of his son and wife in the Exodus, Creon solemnly says, “It is right that it should be. I alone am guilty. I know it, and I say it. Lead me in, Quickly, friends. I have neither life nor substance. Lead me in”(lines 121-124). This quote shows that Creon feels guilt for causing both deaths. Also in the Exodus, Creon joylessly adds, “Lead me away. I have been rash and foolish. I have killed my son and my wife. I look for comfort; my comfort lies here dead. Whatever my hands have touched has come to nothing. Fate has brought all my pride to a thought of dust”(lines 134-138). This quote implies that Creon knows what he did wrong and has accepted the consequences of his actions. Sophocles clearly shows Creon is the tragic hero by conveying the fact that he realizes his fault and accepts the consequences.

As evidenced, Creon is the tragic hero in Sophocles’ Antigone because of his fatal flaw of hubris, his tragic downfall, and his acknowledgment and acceptance of his downfall. His fatal flaw of hubris leads him to push his son away and infuriate the gods. His tragic downfall of losing his son and wife hurts more because he caused their deaths and he loved them more than anything else. In the end, Creon knows what he did and accepts his fate. Antigone may be over 2000 years old, but it is still relevant today because of the lessons it teaches. People like Creon who have excessive pride, no matter how much money or power they have, can be consumed by their own flaws and lose what they value the most.



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