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Antigone, written by Sophocles, lacked the conveyance of displaying who the tragic hero is in the play. Though many people believe Antigone is the tragic hero, I believe Creon displays all of the characteristics of a tragic hero. Tragic hero's are often of higher nobility. Their pride blinds them, leading them to their downfall. Unfortunately, they are enlightened before their demise. Creon receives sympathy through the audience, after discovering his weaknesses, and downfalls from his own self-pride, stubbornness, and controlling authority. He is the truly the protagonist throughout Antigone.
Though the audience notices Creon's nefarious ways, they still express pity towards him. Creon's role in the play is forced to have certain traits bestowed upon him due to his rule over the city of Thebes. Creon is placed in a bad position with a tragic setting, a plague and a corrupt justice system. In order for Creon to led Thebes away from chaos and into order, he needs to be stern. While tyrant like, Creon only wanted Thebes to flourish. Whether it be placing a law against burying Polynieces, the unlawful brother, Creon needs to establish his power to ensure that he will keep authority and power.
Despite the audiences realization that Creon has brought all of his dilemmas upon himself, we can relate that no one should have to go through what he has. We, as the audience, feel compassion with Creon when he notices his son's devastation over the death of his soon to be wife. Creon endured suffering on many levels, the loss of his son, wife, two nephews, niece, and brother with his own hands bringing to their demise. Living with the fact that it was all his fault, the lament was his own upbringing.
Creon noticed his weakness in which he eventually tried to correcting, but is too late. His impulsiveness with his decision-making has led to downfall. The audience rarely gets to see Creon's rational thoughts. Unlike Antigone, Creon does not think things through, but instead acts on emotions and states what comes to mind. Creon tells Haemon "You will never marry her while she lives" soon after the discussion about Antigone. The powerful demanding phrase summarizes Creon's plans for Antigone, which nonchalantly comes to his mind after talking with Haemon. This one decision has fated the lives of two young lovers, but impulsive and arrogance has led Creon to ignore it.
Creon's stubbornness brings about his own downfall when he chooses not to believe Teiresias, the blind prophet. Instead, Creon falsely accuses Teiresias of making "profit from silver-gold". Teiresias criticizes King Creon for "withholding from the disloyal Theban dead the divinely ordained rights of all Thebans to below-ground burials." He demands that Creon bury the bodies of Polyneices and the other Thebans who died attacking Thebes in the recent civil war over the Theban royal power. In response, Creon insults Teiresias with charges of accepting bribes from the king's enemies and of telling lies for monetary gain and personal advancement. Insulted by the false remark of trying to make money, Teiresias tells Creon of his dangerous future ahead of him. Creon tries to correct his impulsiveness with, "I will go, just as I am. Come, servants, all of you; take axes in your hands; away with you to place you see, there. For my part, since my intention is so changed, as I bound her myself, myself will free her." This demonstrates how Creon has changed his impulsive decision, but unfortunately was too late. He is forced to live, knowing that three people are dead because of his ignorance.
Self-pride is the tragic flaw that Creon faces in this story. Creon is stubborn and does not want to compromise. Due to his overwhelming power of pride, he makes destruction fall upon him. His downfall comes from attempting to be just and right by enforcing the law. Since he acted the way he thought was right, he ultimately suffered a tragedy. Creon displays the image of a 'tragic hero' on account of the errors he has made. Creon's tragic flaw causes the deaths of both his wife and son. This is because he shows so much ignorance in every decision he makes. Even if his decisions are wrong he will not correct them, because he is the king, and the king is never wrong.
By Creon's self-pride deciding to never let his son marry Antigone, ends up killing his son also. In closing Creon is not entirely good, he does make mistakes, however the mistakes he made are simply an error of judgment, and completely understandable. His greatest error was that he truly believed that Polynices was a traitor, which consequently forced him to issue a decree, forbidding Polynices a proper burial. Polynices "sought to taste the blood he shared with us, and lead the rest of us to slavery; [...] shall no one honor with a grave and none shall mourn". Creon loses all that he lives for "I do not know where to turn my eyes to look to, for support. Everything in my hands is crossed. A most unwelcome fate has leaped upon me." After the death of his wife he acknowledges his great mistakes in being prideful and realizes how his pride has caused suffering. "Lead me away, a vain silly man who killed you, son, and you, too, lady"(1402-1403). He blunders and pays drastically for his frailty, but in the end he realizes what he has done wrong accepting the guilt and responsibilities for his actions. As the editor in chief Stanley Hochman stated in McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama "a 'tragic hero' learns, although too late, from their experiences, as when Creon cries in the end of the play: "Yes, I have learned it to my bitterness. At this moment God has sprung on my head with a vast weight and struck me down. He shook me in my savage ways; he has overturned my joy, has trampled it, underfoot. The pains men suffer are pains indeed."
To be a good leader you must have the rock solid principals to fall back on in times of stress. Creon lost grasp of these, and that contributed to his failure as a leader. By tragically losing all, one is forced to feel sympathy toward him, by doing what he always thought was right, and what he thought would further protect his kingdom, he is regarded as a hero. These elements combine his stubbornness, controlling demands, and self-pride made Creon a true ancient Greek 'tragic hero'.
Creon's noble quality is his caring for Antigone and Ismene when their father was persecuted. Creon is a very authoritative person and demands control of others. When talking to the Chorus, Creon does not ask them to agree with the decree but demands that they follow it. Creon expects loyalty from others. It is apparent that Creon is very dominating and wants to be in control. "The man the city sets up in authority must be obeyed in small things and in just but also in their opposites"(717-719). Through this quote the reader realizes that Creon wants obedience in everything he decides even if he is at fault. "There is nothing worse than disobedience to authority" (723-724). Further supporting Creon's belief that everyone shall remain faithful to him even if he rules unfairly. This is proved true when Creon says, "Should the city tell me how I am to rule them?" (790).
Creon has forgotten that the ruler is supposed to do what is best for the city and its citizens. Creon is under the impression that he is always correct in his judgments and his beliefs. Before the sentry even explains the event that has occurred, the sentry states that he is only a messenger and has not committed the crime. Yet Creon still accuses the sentry of receiving money to do the crime and threatens to punish him. "That will teach you in the days to come from what you may draw profit [...], ill-gotten gains ruin more than they save" (342-346). Consequently, the Chorus suggests that the Gods may have committed the act. Creon stops this "nonsense" conversation immediately and remarks that Zeus and the Gods would not honor criminals.
Creon seems to believe he knows everything and stubbornly refuses to listen to others. He does not even believe Haemon, his son. Haemon informs his father of the reputation he has created for himself. Creon thinks, "It seems this boy (Haemon) is on the woman's side (Antigone)" (798). Creon refuses to believe what Haemon says and gets into an argument with him for siding with Antigone. Creon presumes that he is the one and only perfect ruler for Thebes. He believes that he can create a better city with his presence: "I would not be silent if I saw ruin [...]. I would not count any enemy of my country as a friend [...],"(202-206). Creon further continues by stating "I will make her greater still" (210). In this quote Creon declares that he will improve the city (she) by his rulings.
Creon describes how his qualities make him a good ruler. Furthermore, Creon views himself as a good leader because he believes he has the best attributes and no one can compare to him. He feels he has no time for ordinary people because he is of higher standards. When Creon says "I will not comfort you with hope that the sentence will not be accomplished" (982-983), this shows his absolute lack of compassion when he is talking with Antigone.