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To begin with, it is essential to highlight that Sophocles’ Antigone as each true tragedy evokes pity on the part of the audience. Such sad feelings are mostly caused by the tragic destiny of the protagonists, namely Antigone and Creon, who both are kind and admirable. However, the theme of fatality and tragic guilt, personal errors are central in the tragedy and for the development of these two characters. Regarding the tragic elements defined by Aristotle, both Sophocles’ heroes Antigone and Creon can be regarded as tragic protagonists of the play.
Antigone is a strong-willed and highly intelligent person, to whom the reader feels sympathy and fellow feeling. Although she is also highly moral and responsible regardless all peripeteia described in Antigone, she was destined to commit a suicide for she could not betray her brother and buried him “despite the interdict” (Sophocles 109). Antigone is described as more noble character than Creon. The choice of “god-fearing” Antigone to follow the family duty and the will of Gods instead of the order of Creon to bury her brother Polynices becomes a hamartia, which leads her to death (Sophocles 112). The figure of Antigone is a foil to Creon who demonstrated his obedience to political laws and rules regardless anything and became a “tool in the destiny’s hands.” The main difference between two characters is that Creon finally recognizes the error; while no anagnorisis is associated with the figure of Antigone as she does not feel pity for her deeds and is certain and conscious about her choice.
Creon’s character is not as pure and admirable as Antigone’s one. He shows his disposition against Antigone and her principles through “ruling people, making laws” (Sophocles 87). Although he is a positive hero as a wise and kind king, his hamartia contradicts the moral rules and oversteps the human duty. His character is associated with such tragic element as hubris and his disregard of the ethical norms. Therefore, the conflict between the rules of the society and the morality becomes definitive for the sufferings of the protagonists.
To sum up, the tragedy Antigone emphasizes that the conflict between the socially accepted moral rules makes humans suffer and, regardless their opposite decisions, come to the tragic consequences. On one side, Creon’s choice to follow the order of the ruler becomes his hamartia while Antigone’s choice, which is opposite to it, becomes fatal for her, as well. In such a way, although both heroes are tragic, the conscious disobedience of Antigone without any regrets or doubts makes the readers perceive her as less tragic hero than Creon.
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