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Sophocles’ Antigone – Antigone as Bad Citizen

Antigone – The Bad Citizen

Being a good citizen often involves doing something out of the ordinary to help others. Sometimes, that involves going against the will of others to do what the good citizen might think is best. Although this is traditionally the case, the biggest factor in being a good citizen is great respect for the nation in which one lives. If one wants to be a good citizen, he or she might go out of his or her way to help others, however, must do so within the rules of the nation. In the Greek Drama by Sophocles, entitled Antigone, the hero, Antigone, shows, what I would call, bad citizenship. How is this? Why is she being a bad citizen?

The setting of the drama is in a fictional kingdom known of as Thebes. This kingdom is basically run by a set of rules and laws. Whether they are necessary or not, these rules must be obeyed. In Thebes, one of the rules states that Antigone’s brother is not allowed to due a respectable death and therefor, will not have a proper funeral. Antigone is torn apart by this. Her brother whom she loved very much will not be able to have a respectable funeral. She explains in the drama how much she disagrees with the rules of the land. Because of this disapproval toward the law, she takes it upon herself to remove the corps of her brother from it’s assigned post so she can do whatever she wants with it. She has broken the law. Although what she is has done is the right thing to do in her mind, the law states that it is not allowed. Throughout the drama, she consults her sister, Ismene, about whether or not she feels though she should commit this crime or not. Ismene makes it clear that she should not and attempts to discourage her sister from doing what she did. Contrary to the advice of her sister, Antigone does indeed commit this crime for she feels that it is what a good person would do.

To the average American, Antigone’s actions might be considered the right thing to do.

Creon – The Tragic Hero in Sophocles’ Antigone

Creon – The Tragic Hero in Antigone

There is still a great debate on who is, in fact, the tragic hero in Sophocles’ Antigone. Many hold that it must be Antigone, herself; after all, the play does bear her name. But in actuality, Creon, not Antigone, is the tragic hero.

In order to determine whether or not Creon is the tragic hero, one will first have to answer the question, “What is a tragic hero?” Aristotle, when discussing the nature of such a hero in his theory of drama, states that such a hero is neither purely innocent nor purely evil. This person is usually born high in the ranks of society and must also possess a tragic flaw, which originates from within and usually manifests itself through poor judgment and/or extreme arrogance. The tragic flaw also dooms the character to a ruinous end.

Creon, as king of Thebes, is at the top of the social ladder. He thus already meets one of Aristotle’s chief criteria. Yet, not only is he king, he is also human and possesses frailties which qualify him to make serious mistakes and he possesses talents which allow him also to excel. Hence, Creon is neither overly good nor bad.

It is also written that the tragic hero’s actions may determine the fates of one or more characters within the tragedy. Appropriately, Creon’s station as king place shim in a position of great power, influence and responsibility. The extent of this power was quite evident when he sentenced Antigone to death for disobeying his proclamation.

Now we come to what, if anything, is the single most important component of being a tragic hero. Here we have the tragic flaw. Creon’s tragic flaw was his hubris or his pride and arrogance in the face of divine powers. His downfall began when he denied the basic divine right of burial to Polyneices and was cemented when he condemned Antigone for her opposition to his law. When one closely examines Antigone’s reasons for burying her brother, it becomes clear that she was simply demonstrating her love, honor, and loyalty to her family.

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