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Pride Comes Before A Fall: Creon’s Antigone Tragedy
As is necessary of an Aristotelian tragic hero, Creon is of higher social status, for at the starting of the play it is produced recognized that he is the King of Thebes. In addition, Creon’s higher moral character, as observed via his adore for the state, the just choice to punish Polyneices, and his great leadership, further tends to make him worthy to possess the label of tragic hero. When speaking to the chorus, Creon states:
. . . if any[a single] tends to make a pal of much more account than his fatherland, that man has no place in my regard. For I . . . would not be silent if I saw ruin, alternatively of safety, coming to the citizens . . . remembering this, that our nation is the ship that bears us protected, and that only although she prospers in our voyage can we make true pals. (86)
Creon believes that the state is of the utmost value, and as a result the reality that he would cease at nothing to defend his subjects shows that regardless of his actions, he has the ideal of intentions. Creon’s excellent nature is also observed in the manner in which he buries Eteocles, who “with due observance of correct and custom he has laid in the earth, for his honor among the dead below” (82). The reality that he refuses to show Polyneices the same respect further testifies to his virtue, for he values the state above all else and thus would by no means “deem the country’s foes a pal to [him]self” (86). By refusing Polyneices an honorable burial, Creon is justly retaliating against the man who attacked his nation. Moreover, his subjects, including his son, Haemon, view him as a great leader. Haemon puts such faith in his father that in Creon’s “wisdom [he] trace[s] the rules which [he] shall follow” (96). Creon is a sensible leader, and as a result his son vows to follow the rules that he sees fit to set.
Nonetheless, regardless of his inherently excellent nature, Creon possesses a tragic character flaw that leads to his downfall. Creon’s flaw comes in the type of an excessive quantity of pride, as is observed in the manner in which he speaks to Ismene. When Antigone is sentenced to death and Ismene asks how she will reside with no her presence, Creon states: “Do not speak of her ‘presence’ she lives no more” (94). His reply is a definite indication of power, for he states that Antigone no longer lives, when in reality she is standing beside him he believes to have the power more than her life and death. Creon equates himself to the stature and energy of the gods, who give and take life as they please. In addition, Creon refuses to listen to the wisdom of an additional, especially if it contradicts with his personal views. When Haemon attempts to convince Creon to spare Antigone’s life with an argument deemed “wise” by the chorus, Creon responds by posing a question of condescending nature: “[are] males of my age . . . to be schooled by men of [your’s]?” (97). He is too egotistical and as a result unwilling to learn one thing from the wisdom of another. Additionally, all through the course of the identical conversation, Creon’s pride overtakes his justness, and Haemon rightly accuses his father of “offending against justice” (98). When Haemon reveals to Creon that the “Theban folk with 1 voice” disagree with the execution of Antigone, he replies arrogantly: “Shall Thebes prescribe to me how I need to rule? . . . Am I to rule this land by other judgement that my personal?” (98). He is appalled at the notion that any individual, particularly those beneath him, can tell him how to rule his state. Creon’s excessive pride prevents him from gaining the realization that his judgement on the matter, despite its good intentions, is incorrect. While the reality that Creon punishes Polyneice can lead to him becoming noticed as a virtuous man, the manner in which he punishes him largely contradicts this view of his character. Creon fails to see that when the state and the gods are in conflict, the gods must be obeyed, for they are of the highest authority. It is his excessive pride – his tragic flaw – that causes him to “dishonor . . . laws which the gods have established in honor” (84). Additionally, Creon refuses to listen to the prophecies of Teiresias. Just before Antigone is killed, Teiresias warns him that
. . . it is [his] counsel that has brought [the] sickness on [the] state. For the altars of [the] city and of [the people’s] hearths have been tainted 1 and all by birds and dogs with carrion from the hapless corpse, son of Oedipus. For that reason the gods no a lot more accept prayer and sacrifice at [the people’s] hands. (103)
Creon is blatantly told that the gods have been angered due to the fact their laws were broken when Polyneices was denied an honorable burial. Nevertheless, he refuses to acknowledge that his actions had been wrong, and accuses of Teiresias of “cloth[ing] shameful thoughts in fair words for lucre’s sake” (104). His pride, and his belief that it is “dire to yield,” blinds him against rational thought. (105). At this point it is too late for Creon to save the state, for his arrogance, which led to errors in judgement, has currently determined his bleak fate.
Even although it is as well late to stop his personal downfall, Creon still experiences a revelatory manifestation. After Teiresias leaves him alone to contemplate the situation in light of his prophecy, Creon’s pride and arrogance retreats, and his just judgement surfaces. When the chorus states that Teiresias has “never been a false prophet to [the] city,” Creon realizes that what the man said should be accurate, and therefore it is useless to challenge it: “by resistance to smite my pride with ruin – this… is a dire choice” (105). He is now in a position to admit that the laws of the gods are above his laws – the laws of the state – and that “it is greatest to keep the established laws [of the gods], even to life’s end” (106). His enlightenment is most noticeable when he blatantly admits his judgement was wrong and that his son died as a outcome:
“Woe is me for the wretched blindness of my counsels! Alas, my son, you have died in your youth, by a timeless doom, woe is me! Your spirit has fled not by your folly but by my own!” (109).
Creon now views himself as a man blinded by arrogance and excessive pride. He realizes that he has done wrong, and therefore excepts his punishment, asking of the folks to “lead [him] away,” for he is “a rash [and] foolish man” (110).
Due to Creon’s good intentions and innately very good nature, one particular does not view him as a villain, but rather feels sympathetic toward him. His downfall is triggered by a tragic character flaw – pride. It is this pride that has led to the death of his wife, his son, and of Antigone it is this pride that causes him to lose his beloved nation and to live a lonely life in which he is looked unfavorably upon by his own individuals. Even though at the finish Creon recognizes the wrong in his judgement, it is as well late to do something about it. It is for these causes that Creon is the Aristotelian tragic hero of Sophocles’ Antigone.
Sophocles. “Antigone.” Greek Drama. New York: Bantam Classics, 1982. pp 82-110.
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