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“Antigone” is a Greek tragedy play in which Antigone is the primary character. In the play, two brothers, Polyneices and Eteocles, are killed while battling for the crown in Thebes' civil war. Because of the two brothers' behavior during the conflict, Creon, the new king of Thebes, determines that Polyneices, the rebel, will not be given a proper burial, and his body is left lying on the battlefield to be preyed on by carrion animals such as vultures and worms. During the period, not being given a proper burial was one of the worst punishments a person could face. While Polyneices was a public shame, Eteocles was honored publicly and buried decently. Ismene and Antigone were the sisters to the brothers who died in the war and Antigone wanted to bury the body of Polyneices and go against the will of Creon. Antigone shares her feelings with Ismene who refuses to help her in burying the body because it was guarded.
The defiant Antigone goes ahead to plan the burial of his brother alone. A tragic hero in a story is the character who makes errors in his or her judgments which eventually lead to his or her destruction. Some of the characteristics of flaws or misjudgments that the tragic hero character makes include; making a judgement error where one seeks revenge or justice, reversal of fortune, making a discovery that the reversal of the fortune was caused by the tragic hero, having pride that is excessive and the fate of the tragic character is often greater than that which is deserved. In this context, Antigone can be considered as a tragic hero because of the tragic flaws that she makes throughout the story.
One of the tragic flaws that Antigone makes is being disloyal to the new king of Thebes Creon and being loyal to the gods. By planning and burying her brother, she demonstrated defiance to the law that had been set by the authority; she justified her actions by stating that she only answers to the divine laws. According to Aristotle who defined the tragic hero, Antigone committed an act of injustice which is also referred to as hamartia (Bobrick 41). King Creon had given an order barring the burial of Antigone’s brother because he was considered a traitor who had gone against the wish of many people and had caused a lot of suffering. However, Antigone goes ahead to disobey the order, and she is ready to face the consequences even if it meant her being killed. In making her decision, she does not consider the feelings of Haemon who is her fiancé and who is also the son of King Creon. As a tragic hero, it can be seen that Antigone makes a tragic flaw in judgment.
Because of the utter disobedience portrayed by Antigone, her reversal of fortune happens when she is accused of barefaced anarchy and sent to prison by King Creon. The reversal of fortunes which is also referred to as peripeteia was as a result of the error of judgment made by the tragic hero who is Antigone in this case. Because of her stubbornness, Antigone fails to see both sides of the decisions that she was making. She believes that the law set by God was the final law and nobody had the authority to overturn in the world not even Creon. Because of the wrong judgments made, she is thrown into prison where she eventually hangs herself while in prison using her veil’s linen.
Through the play, Antigone can also be seen demonstrating excessive pride and she also arrogantly disobeyed the orders that had been given by the authorities. As the tragic hero in this story, her excessive pride leads to her downfall as she faces punishment for failing to follow the orders that had been given by the king. She arrogantly goes ahead to bury his brother even though Creon had forbidden it and she does not seem to care about the outcomes of the decision that she was making. The fate of Antigone at the end is somehow undeserved, by being defiant to the orders that had been given by the King and going ahead to bury his brother, Antigone displayed nobleness and love. This should not have resulted in her ultimate imprisonment and suicide. In making his order about the burial of the brothers who were involved in the civil war, the new king, Creon had also erred in making the judgment. In the end, Creon regrets that his pride had overcome him and he had given an edict which was not just and fair. However, it should be noted that Creon was not aware of the results that his actions could lead to when he was making judgments, Antigone was fully aware of the decisions that she was making and how this was going to affect her.
Bobrick, Elizabeth. "Sophocles’ Antigone and the self-isolation of the tragic hero." Psychoanalytic Inquiry 35.1 (2015): 40-46.
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