Hubris & Pride in Antigone: Quotes & Analysis

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer taught 9th grade ELA and AP Literature for over 8 years. She has a dual master's in English Literature and Teaching Secondary Ed from Simmons University and a BS in Psychology. She is also a contracted freelance writer and certified AP Test Reader.

Sometimes it's hard to acknowledge when you are wrong, but not swallowing your pride can get you in a lot of trouble. In this lesson we will analyze the concepts of pride and hubris in Sophocles' 'Antigone' by looking back to the text for important quotes.

Background on Pride and Hubris

In high school, pride is something that helps unify students and build community. Pride is a positive trait that is characterized by a deep pleasure or satisfaction in one's achievements. Being proud of one's achievements, like one's school culture, is an important part of a growing identity. But what happens when someone's pride grows into a bad attitude and a stubborn mindset?

The term hubris, on the other hand, means excessive pride, and for the Ancient Greeks it meant putting one's self before the gods. Back then, if you were unable to own up to your faults and/or acknowledge humility, your fate was at the mercy of the gods. The characters Antigone and Creon from the play Antigone are tragic heroes that were unable to swallow their pride and let go of their stubborn ways. Let's analyze the text to see where their pride originated and how something so seemingly positive became their fatal flaw.

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  • 0:02 Background on Pride and Hubris
  • 0:59 Antigone's Pride
  • 2:20 Analysis of Antigone's Pride
  • 3:05 Creon's Hubris
  • 4:58 Analysis of Creon's Hubris
  • 5:30 Lesson Summary
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Antigone's Pride

While the definition of pride has a positive connotation, too much pride can lead a person to cultivate a negative attitude. At the beginning of the play, Antigone exhibits healthy pride for her family and culture, choosing to bury her brother Polyneices and face the possibility of death as a consequence from the newly appointed king. While her actions seem justified, her attitude slowly turns from confidence to a sickly pride that masks her rationality.

Antigone claims it's 'beautiful to die in such a pursuit,' but her sister Ismene is not so sure. Ismene understands Antigone's reasoning but refuses to help, offering her loyalty only through secrecy. This angers Antigone; she wants everyone to know she is a hero. 'Oh tell it, tell it, shout it out!' Believing Ismene does not care about their family or the gods.

When Creon first asks Antigone if she knew the consequences of burying Polyneices, Antigone rudely responds, 'Of course I knew. Was it not publicly proclaimed?' While honorable in her actions, Antigone's words are full of pride that turn to stubborn anger. She's not willing to listen to her sister, nor hear the dangers of her actions that could potentially affect the lives of those around her, including her fiance Haemon who happens to be the king's son.

Analysis of Antigone's Pride

Is remaining loyal to her brother positive? Yes. Should she feel pride by standing up for her family? Yes, but her brazen attitude towards death masks the fact that she broke the law and her attitude ultimately digs her grave. But while her attitude is coarse, her argument regarding the gods is solid. 'Since Zeus never promulgated such a law,' why should she listen to Creon, pointing out Creon's hubris in creating this new one.

But let's face it: two wrongs don't make a right. Her pride turns negative, and it forces her to confidently accept death, feeling she is 'unjustly judged' in the process. Creon, on the other hand, transcends the boundaries of pride, showing the audience what happens when hubris takes over.

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