The story of Antigone has been written and translated numerous times. However, the plays written by Sophocles and Jean Anouilh are the most discussed. Despite sharing a similar plot, these adaptations are very different. In Sophocles's Antigone, Kreon appears to be the protagonist. However in Anouilh's, it is Antigone.
In Sophocles's Antigone, Antigone does not appear strong, instead she is almost submissive to Kreon. This Antigone is doing what she does only because of her religion and the gods she believes in. In her death, she does not lose much. She never mentions Haimon directly; he seems to lose more in her death than she does. Antigone is not a tragic heroine, by dying, she has her wish fulfilled - she wants to die for what she does. Antigone was a martyr, not a tragic heroine.
There is considerable distinction…between the martyr and the tragic protagonist. The martyr suffers and dies for a particular cause and may consciously seek death. The tragic protagonist...has every reason to live amd makes a heroic struggle to survive… . (Miller 13)
Kreon has every reason to live, he is ruler of Thebes; he is king. He does not die, but he is destroyed. Kreon loses nearly everything he has. In the play, he is forced to keep his word to his people. His tragic flaw is an unbending will. Kreon cannot accept that he is wrong. He believes that only his opinion counts. He is unafraid to express his decision to leave Polyneices outside the wall "to be feasted upon by carrion birds" even though the chorus is obviously disgusted.
O fate of man, working both good and evil!
When the laws are kept how proudly his city stands!
When the laws are broken, what of his city then?
Never may the anarchic man find rest at my hearth,
Never be it said that my thoughts are his thoughts. (Sophocles 599)
Because of his lack of judgment and unwillingness to bow to a woman, he is thrown into complete disarray and dispair. His flaw is an unbending will, and a failure to accept that he is wrong. Even when Teiresias tells him to repent and admit his wrong, he refuses. His downfall becomes his own doing.
A tragic hero often comes to learn something about himself and his surroundings. Antigone did not give herself time to do this. She remained a stubborn character, refusing to see anything from more than her own point of view. Creon, however, realized far too late the error of his ways when his own family suffered from his decisions. Creon had to live with the knowledge that he brought his downfall upon himself.
It is right that it should be. I alone am guilty
I know it, and I say it. Lead me in.
Quickly, friends.
I have neither life nor substance. Lead me in. (622)
Antigone dies with self-pride, which in a way, worsens Creon's agony.
As a protagonist, Kreon constantly struggles against his pride. The laws of the gods state that every man should be buried; however Creon deliberately disobeys that. He realises his mistakes, however, his pride gets in the way. According to the Greeks, it was hubris or excessive pride that destroyed him. In the end, Creon is punished, he has lost everything.
By the end of the play, Antigone appears as the one who had thrown Creon's life into disarray. Creon seems vulnerable and destroyed; almost pitifully pathetic. Throughout the play, he fights for the respect he desperately wants. He feels that he has to prove himself to his people, prove that he is a man who means what he says.
In Sophocles's Antigone, Creon also has the most lines. He has over twice as many lines than Antigone. The play's focus is on Kreon and the struggles he goes through to prove that he is capable of ruling his state and his household.
However in Jean Anouilh's Antigone, Kreon takes on a different personality. While he obviously suffers in Sophocles's Antigone, in Anouilh's, he is cold and composed. After the deaths of Antigone, Haemon and Eurydice, Creon merely says "They say it's dirty work. But if I didn't do it, who would?" Even after the bloodshed, Creon still believes that he is correct, he is not destroyed or even repentant.
In Anouiilh's Antigone, Antigone emerges as the protagonist and tragic heroine. She is much more