In Antigone, a tragic play written by Sophocles around 441 BCE, the titular character is not actually the protagonist. Although the actions of Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, do serve as a semi-inciting incident, I interpreted the real main character to be Creon, who I originally expected to fill the role of antagonist. Creon, entirely through his own decisions and actions, loses his son, his wife, and his niece, all over the course of the day.
Despite this, and despite being the play’s protagonist, Creon is definitely not a sympathetic character, meaning he doesn’t fit the generally accepted definition of a tragic hero. This play is a tragedy, not because of Creon’s suffering, but because of the suffering his selfish actions cause the innocent people around him. At the end of the day, almost all of Creon’s family is dead, not through their actions but his own, and the play’s depiction of his grief and regret is extremely powerful.
Initially, I found the narrative of this play extremely underwhelming. The differences between the Creon portrayed in Oedipus Rex and the Creon portrayed in Antigone annoyed me personally, since I couldn’t understand how such a drastic change in attitude could have come about. However, with my new perspective of Creon being the protagonist rather than the antagonist, combined with the punch packed by the dramatic conclusion, this play left an impression on me much greater than the one left by Oedipus Rex.