The Tragedy of Antigone in Antigone, a Play by Sophocles

"If it be aught toward the general good, set honor in one eye and death i' th' other and I will look on both indifferently; for let the gods so speed me as I love the name of honor more than I fear death (Julius Caesar 1.2.92-96)". Honor, it is a thing we often take for granted and miss define. How often do truly honorable people inhabit our lives? The book Antigone by Sophocles has several great examples of honor displayed by the protagonist and tragic hero that are contrasted with the antagonist.

"A protagonist is considered to be the main character or lead figure in a novel, play, story, or poem. It may also be referred to as the ‘hero' of a work (” One of the main characteristics of a hero is honor, and they are often faced with a life- threatening choice. “There is no shame in having respect for a brother (Sophocles 511)". Antigone communicates that she is righteous in her deeds and cannot be faulted for doing the overtly right thing and not allowing the guile of her uncle to persuade her away from upholding the law of her gods.

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"Antigone: Because you chose life and I chose death. Ismene: But I gave you reasons not to make the choice. 

Antigone: Oh yes, you are sensible; they agree. But they agree with me (555-558)." When Antigone says "they" for the second time she is not speaking of the counsel. She is speaking of the gods. The audacious girl is implying that she has paid her dues to Hades for her brother's after life.

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She can swaggers proudly as a hero, for she chose the right and honorable thing.

The antagonist of our story is most definitely Antigone's uncle, Creon. An antagonist is "a character, or characters, in a short story, novel, or play, that gives the protagonist a challenge (" Creon challenges Antigone by passing a law that Polynices' body cannot be buried. 

Antigone refuses to be threatened by men and completely rebels against her uncle by burying her brother; therefore, Creon becomes convinced that she must be punished with death, just as the law has commanded. "Go to Hades, then, and if you have to love, love someone dead. As long as I live, I will not be ruled by a woman. (523-525)" Here, Creon is saying that Antigone cannot do anything to make him budge on his decisions, because he is in charge of himself and no woman, especially Antigone, can be above him. In a way, he is challenging Antigone to try and topple him from his position.

Antigone is our tragic hero. “The tragic hero is a character of noble stature and has greatness. This should be readily evident in the play. The character must occupy a "high" status position but must also embody nobility and virtue as part of his/her innate character". Antigone is of noble birth, and she is very noble. She crosses the line of obedience to obey a higher calling. "Be brave. You are alive. Already my soul is dead. It has gone to help those who died before me. (559-560)" Willing to die for what she believes, Antigone claims her soul is already dead. Her soul is fully committed to burying her brother and honoring him in his death. Eventually she does give her life for him by committing suicide.

Conclusively, we can learn from Creon as the antagonist that pride comes before a fall. In his pride, he attempted to condemn Antigone, yet even in her death she conquered him with her love and honor toward her brother. Love truly conquers all.

Updated: Mar 19, 2023
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The Tragedy of Antigone in Antigone, a Play by Sophocles. (2023, Mar 19). Retrieved from

The Tragedy of Antigone in Antigone, a Play by Sophocles essay
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