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.