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Antigone and Ismene

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 10:08 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 49.5 
  • Words: 576
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Tragic heroes are generally people of high social stature with a tragic flaw that usually manifests itself in the form of poor judgment and arrogance, condemning the hero to a disastrous end and establishing the character’s destiny. Antigone is a tragic heroine deeply conflicted between her virtue and her hubris, personifying courage in her civil disobedience against criminal "leadership." A product of incest, her very existence is shameful, but perhaps this is why Antigone has such a burning desire for righteousness. She has great regard for following tradition, and a compulsion to follow these traditions even at the cost of her own life.


Sacrifice is one of her qualities and she is ready to die for what she believes in. She shows disdain for Ismene’s cowardice and tendency to be a fair-weather friend. Her reprisals against traitors are especially fiery. Her concern for family becomes almost an unhealthy obsession, and her selflessness is soon shown to be madness and self-infliction. Being a tragic heroine, she shows excellence of character and bravery, but her fatal flaw is that her will to please the gods is greater than her will to preserve her own life. In the end, uncompromised rigidity is her downfall. She obeys the laws of the gods and is careless about the mortal law’s penalty, her own death.


Antigone does not understand the need to act according to humanity’s place in the scheme in things, one’s pleasing of the gods should continue up until the point when it puts ones life in danger. Our heroine shows hubris by breaking the rule of the golden mean, not because she is egotistical, but because her head gets in the clouds when she believes herself to be a high and mighty enforcer of virtue. This is a form of arrogance, which Zeus despises. Her conception of justice is so rigid that she puts herself in harm’s way, which is not at all honorable in the eyes of the Greeks. Her ‘holier than thou’...

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