The characters in the play Antigone all suffer a downfall of some sort. The major characters suffer the most, though. In this short essay, I will document on how the two main characters, Creon and Antigone, both inevitably become tragic heroes. The first example that I observed in Antigone was her self-righteous plight to bury her brother. She believes that what she is doing is right, and that she will do it no matter what the consequences, because he was her brother, her blood.
This establishes the first part of a tragic hero, the part about doing something or the good of someone else, rather for than the greater glory of doing it. The first impression that Creon made upon me was his stern, ironclad manner and ethical code. When the reader is first introduced to Creon, his or her first impression is that Creon will eventually die, as the villain does in nearly any play, movie, novel, etc. But in actuality, Creon suffers the most of all, losing his one key to immortality, his son. I ruled out that Antigone probably was a tragic hero to a lesser extent, however, when she started to question her actions.
A real hero of any sort always does what they think is right. Since Creon still hadn’t changed his mind at that point, I was perplexed on who would become the one who regretted their actions later, and was eventually going to experience a catharsis. Haimon was the “silent” tragic hero of the play, suffering at the hands of his strict father. Haimon remained loyal up to a certain point, until the question of whether Creon’s decision was possibly the right one. Haimon established himself as a tragic hero when he tried to kill Creon in revenge for Antigone’s suicide.
Haimon not only lost Antigone’s love, he lost his life. Earlier, I mentioned Antigone’s self-righteousness. Creon had an egotistical point of view as well. Antigone thought at first that her actions were justified and righteous when it came to the question of morals and ethics. Creon was not at all different, believing that his way was the “right” way, or the way the “Gods” would have chosen. Both realized the mistake they made, and regretted it later, when it was too late. Creon certainly suffered the most, losing three of his immediate family, the unmentioned being his wife.
But to say that Creon is the only tragic hero in the play is extremely naive and shortsighted. The whole purpose of a Greek tragedy is to make the cast suffer, and to establish fear and pity in the audience. Creon didn’t die in person on the day that caused countless deaths, but he did die in spirit and character. He realized that he was wrong, and that the only way he thought he could relieve the realization of his actions was to kill himself; which never happened. Sophocles certainly didn’t break “the norm” with the script of this play, but he did break the wills of his characters, by making them suffer the unmentionable, death.