Is Creon in Antigone a tragic hero in Aristotle's definition:  The definition of tragic hero by Aristotle: 1) Elevated & essentially good 2) must fall as a result of Hamartia 3) recognition...

Is Creon in Antigone a tragic hero in Aristotle's definition:

 

The definition of tragic hero by Aristotle:

1) Elevated & essentially good

2) must fall as a result of Hamartia

3) recognition what they have done

4) Accept responsibility by accepting that what has been done is wrong

5) Better after the fall

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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If we used Aristotle's definition of the Tragic Hero, I think that there are some fundamental truths revealed about Creon's character.  Certainly, he fulfills some of the characteristics that Aristotle outline. His "hamartia" of pride and excessive faith in his own rule causes his downfall.  He refuses to yield and chooses his confrontation with Antigone to be his "line in the sand."  This ends up proving to be disastrous.  He does accept some level of needing to relent, and in this, there is responsibility accepted, but it comes too little too late as he is unable to avert the suicides that result on the count of his own intensity.  Yet, the ending does reflect his own sense of awareness at his pathetic nature, and brings about an understanding of recognition at what he has done:

Let this rash man be led out of the way,
who, my child, unwillingly slew you,
and this woman, you, too—alas! I have
no where to turn to, nothing to lean on,(1345)
for everything goes cross in my hands,
and a difficult fate falls on my head.

Preceding this, Creon referred to himself in the following manner:

I don't exist any more; I'm no one.

I think that both of these reflect Creon's understanding that what he has done is wrong and that his actions are responsible for what has happened.

We really don't know if Creon is a "better person" for what has happened.  He does not commit himself to the betterment of others, as Oedipus did after his fall from grace in his commitment to his children.  Creon simply blames himself, still seeing himself in the self- indulgent manner that caused the tragedy in the first place.  We don't see Creon assert a better understanding of his place in the world as a result of what happened, and for this, we don't know if he becomes a better person.  This links us back to the first standard identified in whether or not we can say that Creon is a good person from the most initial of standpoints.  Unlike Oedipus, who discovered his own sin out of the basic element of wanting to help his people, Creon's goal is self serving, seeking to only enhance his own power and control over rebellion and insurrection.  There is little in his character that indicates goodness or something that allows us to cling to in recognizing his goodness.  It is here where I am uncertain if he fulfills this characteristic of Aristotle's tragic hero.  In this light, I believe that we have some traits being represented and some attributes absent.

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