AntigoneThe 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.

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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.

Charles WoernerDr. Walton English 12


Antigone In Ancient Greece, new ideals surfaced as answers to lifes complicated questions. These new beliefs were centered on the expanding field of science. Man was focused on more than the Gods or heavenly concerns. A government that was ruled by the people was suggested as opposed to a monarchy that had existed for many years. Freedom of religion was encouraged to be exercised in city-states.These new ideals, though good in intentions, often conflicted with each other creating complex moral dilemmas.

Such was the case in Antigone a play written by Sophocles during this era of change. In the play, Antigone and Creon battle a philosophical war dealing with the controversy of the Greek ideals. They both based their actions on their beliefs of what is right and wrong. The conflict arose when the ideals that backed up their actions clashed with each other, making it contradiction between morals.

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Antigones side of the conflict held a much more heavenly approach, as opposed to the mundane road that Creon chose to follow. Antigone feels that Creon is disregarding the laws of heaven through his edict. After she is captured and brought to Creon, she tells him I do not think your edicts strong enough to overrule the unwritten unalterable laws of God and heaven, you being only a man. Antigones staunch opinion is one that supports the Gods and the laws of heaven. Her reasoning is set by her belief that if someone is not given a proper burial, that person would not be accepted into heaven.Antigone was a very religious person, and acceptance of her brother by the Gods was very important to her.

She felt that It is against you and me he has made this order. Yes, against me. Creons order was personal to Antigone. His edict invaded her family life as well as the Gods. An important ideal in Ancient Greece was the belief that the government was to have no control in matters concerning religious beliefs.In Antigones eyes, Creon betrayed that ideal by not allowing her to properly bury her brother, Polynices. She believed that the burial was a religious ceremony, and Creon did not have the power to deny Polynices that right.

Antigones strong beliefs eventually led her to her death by the hand of Creon. Never, though, did she stop defending what she thought was right. As Creon ordered her to her death, Antigone exclaimed, I go, his prisoner, because I honoured those things in which honour truly belongs.She is directly humiliating Creon by calling his opinions and decisions weak and unjust. She also emphasizes his prisoner, which tells us that Creons decision to capture Antigone was his own, and was not backed up by the majority of the people. She feels that Creon is abusing his power as king and dealing with her task to a persona! l level. Creons actions are guided by the ideal that states Man is the measure of all things. The chorus emphasizes this point during the play by stating that There is nothing beyond (mans) power.

Creon believes that the good of man comes before the gods. Setting the example using Polynices body left unburied is a symbol of Creons belief. No man who is his countrys enemy shall call himself my friend. This quote shows that leaving the body unburied is done to show respect for Thebes. After all, how could the ruler of a city-state honor a man who attempted to invade and conquer his city.From that perspective, Creons actions are completely just and supported by the ideals. Though most of Creons reasonings coincide with the Greek ideals, one ideal strongly contradicts his actions. The ideal states that the population would be granted freedom from political oppression and that freedom of religion would be carried out.

Creon defied both of these. First, Antigone was his prisoner, not necessarily the publics.In fact, the general population supported Antigone, though they were too scared to say anything.

Haemon, the son of Creon, knew of this, and told Creon, Has she not rather earned a crown of gold?- Such is the secret talk of the town. This proves that Creon was exercising complete domination of political power, which is strictly forbidden in the new ideals. Also, not allowing Antigone perform her religious ceremony of burying her brother is interfering with religious affairs. This denies Antigone freedom of religion, hence, contempt for this ideal.

The contradictions between the beliefs of Creon and Antigone are strong throughout the play. Both have well-structured arguments, but neither completely dominates the other.Antigone is motivated by her strong religious feelings while Creon is out to make good for his city-state. The chorus opinion is the determining factor, as in the end, they convince Creon to set Antigone free. Creon had to weigh each factor carefully, and in the end, he had to decide between ideals. His mind was torn in two.

It is hard to give way, and hard to stand and abide the coming of the curse.Both ways are hard. The contradiction of ideals was what led to Antigones, Haemons, and Megareus death.

Both sides were just, all beliefs were supported. Creon was forced to decide the unanswerable, decipher the encoded, complete the impossible, and determine right from wrong when there was no clear answer.


Antigone In ancient Greece, men who died in war fulfilled the civic ideal to the utmost. The women, destined to live out a degrading life, died in bed. Certainly, not all men died in battle, but every epitaph shows in one way or another, the city would always remember the men who died in war. Additionally, not all Athenian women died in bed; nonetheless, it was left to her family to preserve the memory of her not the city. No matter how perfect a woman was she would never receive the same status or level of social expectations from the city that a man received.

No accomplishments were allowed beyond living a life of motherhood and submissiveness to a man, namely her husband. In fact, in early Greece, women were typically viewed as subservient to men, submissive in their actions, and of a status only slightly above slaves; however, Antigone was not your typical Greek woman. Many ancient Greek Philosophers have written and expressed their views on womens status in ancient Greece. One author, Sophocles, wrote plays about how you cannot escape fate, because the Gods give fate and men cannot escape what the Gods decide. Sophocles shows his case in point, that human laws can destroy a city, using Antigone as a noticeable illustration to show his points.Pericles according to the author Thucydides has hardly anything to say about women, but when he does, it is in a demeaning statement. Socrates never says anything in reference to women, but more to society in a whole.

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Finally, Sapphos writings have been threatened to be destroyed because of her indifferent views towards women and how she portrayed them. In the play Antigone, Sophocles stretches the role of a woman. There is a battle between what is right and laws of Gods or laws of man.Sophocles places Antigone in this fight against her Uncle Creon. Antigone stands up for ancient law and Creon stands up for mans law. Creon voices his opinion on how he feels about women in ancient Greece. Creon states We must defend the men who live by law, never let some woman triumph over us.

Better to fall from power, if fall we must, at the hands of a man never be rated inferior to a woman, never. (Pg.77 line 755-762) Antigone, with her sharp tongue, challenges Creon with what she feels is right It wasnt Zeus, not in the least, who made this proclamation not to me. Nor did that justice, dwelling with the gods beneath the earth, ordain such laws for men. (Pg.

72 line 500 502) Sophocles illustrates not only a woman fighting for her familys honor, but a woman using the law of the gods to make a point. After many conversations, Creon makes a statement in line 591 saying: Go down below and love, if you love you must love the dead! While I am alive no woman is going to lord it over me.In this passage, clearly Creon states that no woman will ever change his law while he is alive. In Pericles Funeral Oration written by Thucydides, he writes of a funeral dedication in honor of the men who lost their lives fighting in the Peloponnesian War. Here, the speech is honoring the men in saying that if not for them, where would Athenian society be.

Such is the Athens for which these men, in the assertion of their resolve not to lose her, nobly fought and died. (Pg.11) Near the very end of his speech, he says a few sentences to express his stand to the widows: On the other hand, if I must say anything on the subject of female excellence to those now in widowhood, it will be all comprised in this brief exhortation. Great will be your glory in not falling short of your natural character: and greatest will be hers who is least talked of among the men whether for good or for bad. (Pg.

13) Again, he speaks of how the women should just disappear in society not to be heard. Oedipus the King illustrates how a Queen Jocasta, who was Antigones mother, tried to trick or evade fate by having Oedipus killed because of what the prophet told her. This plan was thwarted because Oedipus was kept alive and fulfilled the prophecy by killing his father and marrying his mother.

The fact that Jocasta tries to do what is best for the city shows that she was probably more outspoken than most women back then. As Antigone was her daughter, this highly aggressive behavior was more than likely passed on from Jocasta to Antigone. Sophocles has somewhat touched upon this issue in a way, which intrigues the mind with the possibilities. The play Oedipus the King sets up the next play, Antigone, with a valid reason for her out spoken manner. In The Republic, Socrates has many conversations where he voices his opinion of people in general as a whole and really does not specify or elaborate on women as a whole.

Socrates seems more intrigued with understanding the human thought process and evaluating how humans draw the conclusions, they come too. Socrates seems to conclude that most people are told what to think and how to think and he proves that most people conform to think what they have been taught to think, therefore most not really having a thought process of their own. Sappho was a female who wrote poems indicating early women in Greece were more than mere objects to be viewed from afar.Sappho is sarcastic in her poems, as illustrated in A Wedding Toast; We drink your health, Lucky bridegroom! Now the wedding you asked for is over Aphrodite has surely outdone herself in doing honor to you! Sappho was outspoken about how women were treated. She was seemingly bitter towards the way women were viewed and treated in ancient Greece. In the poem, Prayer to My Lady of Pahos, she writes: For let her run, she will soon run after; if she wont accept gifts, she will one day give them: if she wont love you she soon will love although unwillingly (Pg.

5) Sapphos, work was threatened to be destroyed, because she didnt fit the stereotype. She spoke outwardly of her bitterness toward the way women were viewed and treated.She felt that woman were treated as objects rather than as human beings with feelings and thought. Sapphos felt woman should have had more say in their own destinys and should have been allowed to voice their opinion as freely as men. Antigone speaks like a true warrior and a man, for she does what is brave not cowardly. She stands behind what she believes and is willing to carry out her convictions without a second thought or hesitation. Antigone would rather die at the hands of the city laws than defy the laws of the God.

It has been stressed and proven repeatedly that the women of Greek society should be submissive, obedient, and seen, but not heard. Then we have Antigone, who is an extraordinary character created by Sophocles. Antigone acts for and in the perspective of the prevailing conventions of society and politics, as a man breaking the mold so to speak.

Antigone goes against what is to be believed the typical Greek woman; she exhibits certain masculine traits. Her presence is felt with such a force in this literary work. Invoking mixed feelings in those who read it.

Is Antigone a fool or a heroine? She believes the Gods will hold her in great honor, and this means more to her than any law of the city. Mythology Essays.


As the play begins Antigone is just meeting up with her sister and is telling her about the decree of King Creon.

Antigone and her sister, Ismene, had two brothers who had killed each other on the battlefield. One of their brothers, Eteocles, was buried with the military honors of a soldiers funeral, and yet the other, Polyneices, was to be left out to be food for the carrion birds since he died fighting against the city of Thebes. King Creon forbade publicly for anyone to bury the body of Polyneices under the penalty of death. Antigone is now determined to bury her brother and wants Ismene to help her. Ismene does not want to go against what the king has ordered and is fearful of what may become of her if she partakes in this journey to bury her kin.

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Antigone does not even think of the king as a threat and she does not believe that even he could stop her from burying the body of her beloved brother. Ismene tells her sister that she does not think that it is right to go against men and the powerful laws. She believes that it is not good to get involved in things that will draw attention to you, especially when they involve immediate disrespect for the kings orders. Antigone is offended by this and tells her sister that she would not want her to come if that was the way she felt, even if she did want to join her. She believes that her crime is holy and that her death could only be joyous, as she is to be with her brother and the other dead because she had obeyed the unwritten law of the gods where they desire every man is to be buried. Ismene becomes fearful for her sisters welfare, but her sister only warns her to be fearful for herself since everyone will hate her when they find out that she had known about the plan and did not tell anyone.

Antigone firmly believes that she is simply doing what she must do. She has no choice. Her death, if that is what it must come to in order to accomplish the burial of her brother, will be better than the death of her brother without her bravery, that is to say, a death without honor. When they part Ismene tells her sister that she is unwise, and yet a loyal friend to those who love her. Now when the guards discovered that someone buried the body of Polyneices, the head sentry went to tell the king, whereupon Creon became enthralled with anger.

He told the sentry that he judged him to be a bribed soldier and that he could not return unless he found the person who had buried the body or told of whom it was that had bribed him. After this the horrified sentry and his men brushed off the sacred burial dust from the body and kept watch from a distance to see if the rebel would return to bury the body. Sure enough, during a sandstorm Antigone was seen burying the body that she had cared for so well before. The guards grabbed her and she showed no fear. She did not try to evade her pursuers and she was brought before the king. The king first asked her if she had heard his proclamation concerning the burial of her brother.

She blatantly told him that could not have helped hearing it. If she had denied hearing it, she may have escaped death, but she did not want to escape it, and she felt that she had done nothing wrong. She believed that her death would be of no importance, but that the death of her brother would have brought immense suffering upon herself. She then labels Creon a fool since she believes that it is just that which he thinks herself to be. At this, one of the kings advisors remarks that she is just as headstrong and deaf to reason as her father was. The king is furious now and charges the girl with double insolence for breaking the given laws and boasting of it. Creon orders that some of the servants go to acquire Ismene, for he deemed her to be just as guilty as her sister. Antigone now chastises the king telling him that everyone there would see what she has done as an honor, but they remain silent out of fear of him.

The king admits to this, but says that it does not matter since she is the guilty one, and the others are not. In response, she claims that there is no guilt in reverencing the dead. Creon tries to point out the guilt since she is honoring her brothers equally, even though one of them was a traitor.

Antigone feels that there is honor due to all the dead and that we cannot say whom the gods hold wicked or respected. Creon becomes enraged again but at this time Ismene enters the room. Creon now asks Ismene very coldly if she confesses to her share of the crime. Ismene does not deny any part of her crime and beckons the punishment of guilt to enrapture her. At this Antigone becomes enraged that her sister would try to take credit for partaking in the honor of the crime that she was too terrified to commit. Ismene protests, saying that it is her duty to the dead to be killed with her sister, since she was too scared to bury her brother.

Antigone states that Ismene will not lessen her death by sharing in it. Ismene insists that they are both equally guilty. Creon orders them away to be guarded, but later decides to spare Ismene although Antigone would see no mercy.

The next day, when Antigone is brought to her tomb where she will be locked away from life, she begins to break down from her plateau of pride for the deed for which she felt herself so deserving of honor. She becomes angry with her fellow people who have come to see her go. They lend to her no pitying words, or cries of regret at her death which she will endure. They let her know that she has brought it upon herself and she now speaks no more of the honor of her dead brother, but of the horror of the crime of her fathers marriage and how it has ruined her own, since she was to be wed before she was condemned to death.

Now she has no desire to live and is depressed at the lack of pity from those around her. She must now venture into the tomb, where she will die a slow death being deprived of water, food, and light. Once sealed off from the outer world she sees no honor in this and hangs herself with her own garment.

And with this completion of the last phase of her life, she can finally receive the long awaited praise from those who she had given her life to reverence.Bibliography:


.. e law set forth by the gods. That law prohibits the burial of Antigones brother because he acted against his native country. It is the gods law that all soldiers have an appropriate and honorable burial.

Although Creons law contradicts the gods, he sticks to his beliefs and does not alter them.Even when his niece, Antigone, defies his law, he carries through with the punishment, which is death. she is a traitor and must die, or else Id be a traitor too, and I will not break my promise to the state.

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I suppose shell claim that as my niece she should not be put to death, but if I exempt my family from the law, why should anyone else be subject to it? Its important to people to know that their leaders house is in order, because if its not, how can he be expected to keep their house in order? (479-448). Creon obviously has a strong sense of duty to his country. He is committed to being fair among his people, which is a good trait for a leader to have.He knows and respects the fact that some people will not agree with his decisions or his rule, but he remains strong and continues to enforce his laws. Because Creon has a strong will, however, does not mean that he does not show humiliation. Towards the end of the play, after learning that he will push his son and niece to their deaths, Creon recoils himself and steps back from his leadership role. At the time when he needs to become passionate and morally responsible, he is able to do that.

Its hard to swallow my pride, but I will. Only an idiot tries to fight with fate.I buried her, I will set her free myself (838-839, 843-844). Creons character displays the typical leadership qualities that any principal needs to have to be considered a good leader.You pause behind a shelf that contains the candy bars.

You are trying to figure out a way that you can surprise the man without letting him know you are there. Looking around, you see a young man lying next to you. He looks up at you and pleads with his eyes for you not to do anything. The look makes you have second thoughts.What are you doing? Youre playing with a gift, with life, that can be taken away as quickly as it was given. But youve already come this far. Turning back now would look bad and damage your pride.

So, you continue on, full of self-assurance and pride. You jump out into the clearing and plan to tackle the guy. But before you can jump the guy, he swivels around and fires.Youre blown backwards, hit by something so powerful that it knocks you down. Suddenly, everything looks dim and you realize that you cant breathe. Feeling your chest, you lift your hand to see dripping blood.

Regret fills your thoughts before you fall into unconsciousness. Like Antigone, pride gets the better of you.And like you, Creon has the same mind-set.

Creon is extremely proud, proud about being king, proud about making his own laws, and proud that he doesnt budge on his ruling. Having pride can be a positive possession, if it is not abused. Creon, however, is too proud, and eventually it leads to his downfall, as it led to yours. This new law that Creon has passed, the forbidden burial of Antigones brother, goes against the divine law set by the gods.

When Antigone breaks Creons law and Creon is made aware of it, he is stubborn.He is not willing to listen to Antigones story about why she did what she did. He just ignores her opinion, and continues through with his ideas of punishment. He is stubborn and too proud to lower himself to her level.

He thinks that as king, he cannot change his mind and must stick to what he initially believes in. His pride tells him to do something that he may not want to do. But he cant go back on his word, because he would look foolish and dumb.Or at least, so he thinks. It is his pride, however, that destroys him in the end. You so-called prophets are like archers, letting your arrows fly at me! But what you truly are, is confidence men, trying to hustle me! Leave me in peace.

Turn profit somewhere else, old man, speculate on the foreign exchange, wherever, I dont care; but even if Gods eagles bore the body of Oedipus son (Antigones brother) to the heavens, morsel by rotting morsel, I would not let you fool me into allowing his burial (753-762). No matter who tries to contradict Creon, whether it is the townspeople or Tiresias, a soothsayer, he just wont listen because he is too stubborn and proud to change his laws.In the end, however, it is Creons pride that causes the death of his son and of his niece, Antigone. Being proud about something is good, but having too much pride to listen to family, friends, and common sense is destructive. Every person has another side.

It is a side that most people do not see, but that some people are unfortunate enough to encounter. Sophocles develops two characters in his play Antigone that have another side, a side that is not so obvious from the beginning lines. Antigone, for example, is at first very strong-willed woman.Towards the end, however, when she realizes that she will definitely die, she turns soft and cries about the fact; even though she already knew about the consequences when she buried her brother. Despite this fact, Antigone is looked upon as a heroine. She is an unusual female throughout this play because she stands up against males and sticks to what she believes in. She is not easily scared by Creons threats or the consequences.

Anyone who is willing to die for their beliefs has strength and courage. And I admire that, because I know that I, myself, would not go through with something given that the penalty would be death.I do not have that kind of conviction, but Antigone does, and that is why she is considered a heroine. Mythology Essays.


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