Antigone by Robert Fagles, Book Review Example

Antigone is a classical tragic hero, because she does not change her ways, principles or beliefs. Looking at the play as a moral tragedy of the Ancient Greek literature, it is evident that the author, Sophocles wanted to teach the audience a moral lesson. Still, the fault should be found not in the heroine, but the king: Creon, who thinks that power and authority is above family, love and the well-being of loved ones. In the end of the tragedy, he loses everything else apart from power: his son, wife and the love of his people.

The Heroine

Antigone can easily be identified as a tragic heroine in the classical play. First of all; she is royal, has a tragic flaw and this flaw leads to her falling. In order to become a true heroine, the character need to be worthy of pity, empathy and concern of the audience of the tragedy. She needs to be someone people can relate to.

The Tragic Flaw

The tragic flaw of Antigone is that she is overly proud. She does not possess the ability to compromise or obey. She is a free spirit who cannot be stopped by orders, even if they come from the king himself. She does not consider her relationship with Creon’s son, Haemon. She does not think that the relationship should make her give up her principles. Indeed, she states: “No one will ever convict me for a traitor.” (57)

Feeling of Pity

There are several parts in the play when the audience can feel pity for the heroine, Antigone. She does not bend, as the meaning of her name says and the tragedy is foreseeable. She states:

 “Courage! Live your life. I gave myself to death,

long ago, so I might serve the dead.” (630)

She also expresses self-pity when she states:

“no wedding-song in the dusk has crowned my marriage—

 I go to wed the lord of the dark waters.” (908-909)

Fear for the Heroine

The fear for the heroine is expressed by the chorus in the play: they remind her of her duties and that she “went too far” (941). While the prophet does reflect on the tragic events, the public opinion is confirmed by the people in the chorus:

“Your own blind will, your passion has destroyed you”. (962)

Recognition of the Heroine

Antigone realizes her flaw at the moment she gets to know the consequences of her stubbornness. She does start to think along with the audience: is her tragedy out of her control, or is she to be held responsible for the events? Was she right to give up her life as a woman, marriage and children for her principles?

Reversal and the Nature of the Fall

The reversal of roles happens when Creon has to face with the fact that he lost everything in the battle for power and authority. While the people took Antigone’s side, he still held onto his decision. He becomes the victim of the tragedy: he loses his whole family but gets to keep his kingdom. At this point, it is evident that he is a loser and would be happy to get his family back and change his orders, but it is too late. He regrets his actions in the following lines:

“Ohhh, my crimes,

so senseless, so insane.

my stubborn, deadly—

Look at us, the killer, the killed” (1392-1395)