Thesis Statement For Antigone

PROMPT: Explain who is the tragic hero of the play, as well as that particular character's tragic flaw that leads to his/her end.

-Could someone please grade this essay according to the Massachusetts MCAS long composition rubric as well as give me a letter grade? Also any further advice/grammar corrections would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!-

The world does not contain an ideal individual for every man is flawed in some aspect. The imperfection of man and the problems resulting from them are the very basis of which Greek tragedies are written. The protagonist of a tragedy is called the tragic hero and the tragic hero has to possess a tragic flaw that eventually leads to his demise at the end. In "Antigone" by Sophocles, the tragic hero is Creon and the tragic flaw that he possesses is his arrogance.

Creon's character has all the requirements needed for him to be considered the tragic hero of "Antigone." His character is regarded as the protagonist because he is the principal character that supports a righteous cause. The play is based on King Creon's rule of the city of Thebes and therefore he is one of he main characters. Creon strongly believes that Polyneices, the brother of the former king, should not be allowed any form of burial since he fought his own brother for the throne and caused a battle in which they both perished. As a result of his righteous beliefs, Creon establishes a decree forbidding anyone to bury Polyneices, the traitor. Moreover, Creon possesses a tragic flaw that ultimately led him to his downfall. His flaw, which was his arrogance, left him "alone...[and] guilty"(Exodus:121) and directly "killed...[his] son and wife"(Exodus: 135). Creon's arrogance can be shown in his interactions with Antigone, Haimon, and Teirasias.

Antigone, the sister of Polyneices, decides to bury her brother despite the death penalty for doing so established by Creon. When Antigone is caught in the act, Creon sentences her to death by surrounding her "in a vault of stone... in the wilderness" (3:143-4) despite the fact that Antigone is his niece and his son, Haimon's, fiancé. Creon thinks so highly of himself and his law that he doesn't take into account who has committed the crime or for what reasons and punishes Antigone according to his law. In the eyes of Creon, he can only see that an anarchist has defied him and therefore is punishable by death. When Haimon goes to reason with his father about Antigone's unreasonable sentence, Creon tells him that "a man of ...[his] years and experience [should not] ...go to school to a boy"(3:94-96). From this statement it's clear that Creon has excessive pride because he sees his son as an immature boy while he's a grown, intelligent man when he's the one being unreasonable. Further into the play, the blind prophet, Teirasias, deliberately goes to the king to warn him of the severe consequences of his actions after seeing a sign from heaven that the gods were angry. In response, Creon disregards him and even accuses Teirasias of telling false predictions for money when he says that "the generation of prophets have always loved gold" (5:61). The warning was obvious that Creon was going receive punishment for his actions but his pride overpowered him. As a result of his arrogance, Creon paid no attention to reason or warnings and caused him to live in a world outside of reality.

At the end, Creon attempted to mend his mistakes by burying Polyneices and freeing Antigone from her vault of stone but all was too late. Antigone had committed suicide and not long after that so did Haimon. When news spread to the queen, she also committed suicide to reunite with her son. All that happened could have been prevented if Creon learned to put aside his pride and listen to reason as well as warnings. If he did so, Creon would have found that Antigone didn't deserve a death sentence for burying her own brother even if he was a traitor for "there is no guilt in reverence for the dead" (2:106). Both Haimon and Teirasias tried to warn Creon of his perverse behavior without success, but if Creon wasn't blinded by his pride, only one would have been enough to alter the tragic ending. Arrogance has brought Creon nothing but pain and suffering when it directly caused the destruction of his family.

Creon failed to heed obvious warnings and failed to see clear reason when arrogance corrupted his judgment. He was truly the tragic hero with a tragic end all due to his arrogance. Mankind has many flaws but arrogance is one that can bring about much destruction and can lead to one's downfall.

Your first paragraph could be deleted in its entirety without weakening your essay. Moreover, most of the rest of your essay consists of plot summary, rather than a thoughtful analysis of the play. You should look more at how exactly Creon is arrogant, specifically how he is guilty of hubris. His decree that Polyneices should not receive a proper burial is an affront to the gods, because such rituals are essentially religious ones. Also, they are not meant to honor the dead, but to bring closure to those who cared about him. As such, Creon's decree is both blasphemous and unreasonable. Hence the idea that "there is no guilt in reverence for the dead." Or, to think of it another way, he is usurping the authority of the gods by presuming to judge and punish the dead, which is not a power that he, as a merely mortal king, can rightfully claim.

The first line is confusing, but you can fix it with a comma:

The world does not contain an ideal individual, for every man is flawed in some aspect.

The imperfection of man and the problems resulting from them are the very basis on which Greek tragedies are written.

Keep the tense consistent (in the present tense):

At the end, Creon attempts to mend ...

Creon fails to heed obvious warnings and fails to see...

Sorry I cannot give it a grade, but I can give these corrections! I think it's great; you stick to your main point throughout the essay. How about adding one more reflective sentence to that last paragraph?

thank you very much for your corrections and your advice. too bad you cant give me a grade. i'd like to see what others think of my essay besides my teacher. she corrected it and gave me a failing grade along with a comment telling me to stick with my thesis statement. i'm very confused.

Well, I assume your thesis statement is "In "Antigone" by Sophocles, the tragic hero is Creon and the tragic flaw that he possesses is his arrogance." So, all of your paragraphs should show ways in which Creon is arrogant. Your second paragraph doesn't really do this -- it reads more like a second introductory paragraph instead. Your third paragraph is more on topic, but suffers because you alternate between stating what Creon did and saying that that was arrogant, without really explaining why it was arrogant. For instance, you write that "Creon thinks so highly of himself and his law that he doesn't take into account who has committed the crime or for what reasons and punishes Antigone according to his law." But isn't a good king supposed to be impartial and to apply the law equally to all? How is this arrogant? Likewise, you write that "Further into the play, the blind prophet, Teirasias, deliberately goes to the king to warn him of the severe consequences of his actions after seeing a sign from heaven that the gods were angry. In response, Creon disregards him and even accuses Teirasias of telling false predictions for money when he says that "the generation of prophets have always loved gold" (5:61)." But shouldn't a king refuse to listen to crazy men claiming to be prophets? Why is this a sign of arrogance? and your third paragraph drifts back off topic.

Of course, I might have misunderstood what you intended your thesis statement to be. It could be that you were going with "Creon's arrogance can be shown in his interactions with Antigone, Haimon, and Teirasias." In which case, you would want to have three body paragraphs, one discussing Creon and Antigone, one discussing Creon and Hamion, etc.

In any event, it is not clear exactly what your thesis is, and whatever it is, it is obvious that you have not proven it. Since the point of an essay is to prove a clear thesis, your mark is unsurprising. On the bright side, a single bad mark isn't the end of the world, and might be more valuable than a good one if you learn something from it.

Well, since the prompt is to 1) explain who is the tragic hero and 2) explain his/her tragic flaw, I thought I should explain that Creon is the tragic hero in the 2nd paragraph and then explain his tragic flaw in the 3rd and 4th paragraphs. After reading your comments, I agree that I should have explained myself more regarding how i thought Creon was arrogant. However, was it wrong of me to devote one body paragraph to explaining how Creon was the tragic hero? Is that the incorrect setup of the essay? How else could I have organized it?

The two parts of the prompt don't need separate paragraphs. The answer to (1) is "Creon." The answer to (2) is "hubris." So, your thesis statement would be "The tragic hero of Antigone, Creon, is doomed by his hubris which manifests itself in . . ." followed by whatever your main reasons for accusing him of hubris are. Then, each of the three reasons (three is traditional) would be treated in its own body paragraph. Tack on a conclusion, and you'd have a fairly basic five paragraph essay, which I'm guessing is pretty much what your teacher was looking for.



An interesting way of thinking about theme in Antigone is through an analysis of the contrast between Antigone and Ismene.

A defensible thesis statement could be:

Antigone is a proto-feminist heroine whose execution in a male-dominated culture was inevitable.

Ismene is conventional, obedient to authority, and incapable of the independent thought and boldness that Antigone possesses, seen clearly in her line:

"We are only women, We cannot fight with men, Antigone!"

Antigone's response to...

An interesting way of thinking about theme in Antigone is through an analysis of the contrast between Antigone and Ismene.

A defensible thesis statement could be:

Antigone is a proto-feminist heroine whose execution in a male-dominated culture was inevitable.

Ismene is conventional, obedient to authority, and incapable of the independent thought and boldness that Antigone possesses, seen clearly in her line:

"We are only women, We cannot fight with men, Antigone!"

Antigone's response to her sister is

"You have made your choice, you can be what you want to be."

Even though she understands that defying Creon's edict and burying their brother, Polyneices, will result in her execution, Antigone chooses to do what her personal values and the gods deem correct:  bury her brother so that his soul will proceed to the underworld.  She rejects her sister (the sole remaining member of her nuclear family), her fiance, her future, and the rule of law in Thebes as declared by her uncle. 

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