As is the nature of tragedy, the tragic hero Creon blames himself for causing the deaths of his son, wife, and niece. He says to the Chorus Leader:
Lead me away, I pray you; a rash, foolish man; who have slain thee, ah my son, unwittingly, and thee, too, my wife-unhappy that I am! I know not which way I should bend my gaze, or where I should seek support; for all is amiss with that which is in my hands,-and yonder, again, a crushing fate hath leapt upon my head.
The Leader (Choragos) adds, as a kind of exemplum:
Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness; and reverence towards the gods must be inviolate. Great words of prideful men are ever punished with great blows, and, in old age, teach the chastened to be wise.
So, Creon achieves wisdom through suffering. It takes the deaths of the three most important family members in his life for him to realize his stubbornness and pride. Like Oedipus in Oedipus Rex, he accepts the responsibility for his actions, citing his moral blindness: "I know not which way I should bend my gaze." Like Oedipus, Creon chooses to live with his suffering rather than commit suicide. In this way, Creon serves as a model tragic hero.
At the end of the tragic events, Creon blames his own hubris for his tragic end.
As a result of his excessive pride and stubbornness, King Creon suffers the end of many a tragic Greek hero: he falls because of his pride.
How dreadful it is when the right judge judges wrong. (Scene 1.127)
Since Creon has insisted that Antigone obey him and not a higher moral law, Creon has committed a crime with his inflexibility as he refuses to bend to the will of the gods. The chorus addresses this flaw in Ode II:
What mortal arrogance
Transcends the will of Zeus? (Ode 2.13-14)
In Scene V the seer Teiresias tells Creon after Antigone's brother's body is left unburied,
I tell you, Creon, you yourself have brought
This new calamity upon us. Our hearths and altars
Are stained with the corruption of dogs and carrion birds
That glut themselves on the corpse of Oedipus's son. (Scene 5.25-28)
King Creon has put himself above the gods with his insistence that he be obeyed. For after Eteocles and Polyneices have slain each other in battle, Creon has decreed that Polyneices's body not be buried because he broke his exile and returned to battle his brother. This is Creon's order, and not the rule of the gods.
After the death of Oedipus, it was agreed that each son would take the throne from one year to the next. When Eteocles, the older brother, refused to relinquish his throne to Polyneices after a year, this other brother and six foreign princes marched upon Thebes. The princes were both killed when they dueled with each other.
After these deaths, Creon has been made king, and he has recently issued the order that Eteocles be buried in honor, but the body of Polyneices is to be left to rot because Creon believes that he has been a traitor. If anyone attempts to bury him, Creon has decreed that person will suffer death.
Antigone refuses to obey Creon's ruling because, she contends, her brother Polyneices "fought as bravely and died as miserably" as Eteocles. When her sister Ismene will not help her bury their brother, Antigone tells her,
You may do as you like,
Since apparently the laws of the gods mean nothing to you. (Prologue. 60-61)
After Antigone obeys the "laws of the gods" and buries her brother, she is arrested and taken to prison. In the meantime, the son of Creon as well as Antigone's fiancé (Haemon) and his mother plead with Creon to release Antigone. But by the time King Creon finally allows Antigone to be released, she is found dead in the cave after having committed suicide. In despair, Haemon and then his mother kill themselves, leaving Creon alone in his sorrow and great distress. Clearly, because of his blind pride and refusal to obey what Antigone calls the "unwritten laws" of honoring the dead, Creon is led to his tragic downfall.