Who is the tragic hero in Antigone?  

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title character is the tragic hero(ine) of Antigone. She exhibits all the characteristics of a classic tragic hero. As the daughter of Oedipus, she is royal. And she obviously meets a tragic fate, being sentenced to death by her uncle, and committing suicide just before she is to be rescued. Her tragic flaw is a little more tricky, because she is clearly a sympathetic character. But Greek audiences would have understood that she had the tragic flaw of hubris, in that she felt justified in defying the dictates of Creon, the king, based on her adherence to what she views as a higher law. She is unrelenting in her determination to give her brother a proper burial, because she feels a family obligation to do so, and because she believes it is the right thing to do. While this seems admirable to us (and Sophocles' audiences) it would also have been understood as a somewhat reckless action that would have mortal consequences for Antigone. This is especially the case because Antigone makes a point of making her actions public. When Ismene swears that she will tell no one of her sister's plans, Antigone responds:

Oh, denounce it! I will hate you the more
if you don't tell these things to everyone.

Her behavior demonstrates that she is driven by pride and self-confidence in addition to her deep devotion to her family. Her unyielding nature, while admirable, is her undoing. As the Chorus observes, just after Antigone has confessed her "crime" to Creon:

She's clearly the fierce
daughter of a fierce father; she doesn't know to bend with the wind.