Conflict of Loyalty From reading Antigone, loyalty comes in all different forms. One is how Antigone expressed her loyalty to family by giving her brother, Polynices, a proper bruial; even though she wasn’t being loyal to the rules of Creon, king of Thebes. Humans are faced with basic conflicts of loyalties—to state, religion, and family. Personal happiness is another powerful and legitimate pull. But perfect balance among these compelling factors is impossible; hence suffering is inevitable.
In this play, loyalty expresses through Antigone’s eyes with respect to the family, as she showed devotion to them, by giving her brother a proper burial. Being able to balance happiness and loyalty is definitely something that is impossible. Antigone knew that trying to keep the state and king happy she would have to go against burying her brother, but if she wanted to stay loyal to her family then of course she would have to give Polynices a proper burial. She decided to sides with her loyalty to her state and family. She states, “I’ll bury him myself.
And even if I die in the act, that death will be a glory” (85-86). Antigone not only was able to be loyal to her family but it brought her happiness even though in the end she was punished for it. She was a very proud and unselfish woman, she didn’t care that she would be left somewhere to die alone, all that mattered was her brother got the proper burial. Making such a huge decision to sacrifice her life and be disrespectful to her state wasn’t something that made really phased her, for the fact she was choosing her loyalty to her family as her first priority.
Making a personal choice to bring happiness may not always work out for the best in the end, but as long as the choice the person has made is something that they can live with the rest of their life then they are being loyal and true to themselves. Creon, the king of Thebes, only shows how he is selfish and shows loyalty to himself along with the state. He shows no mercy to anyone even if they are family and in that sense is the one who causes all the suffering. Creon sentence both his nieces, Antigone and Ismene to death, even though he wasn’t going to really punish Ismene for breaking the law; he was the reason for his own anangke.
Creon felt like he was so powerful since he was the king, but enforcing his rule about burying Polynices was a hamartia. In the end Creon learned how being loyal to his state only caused pain and suffering for not only himself but his family as well. He may have been happy with showing he was the king but didn’t think twice if he was being loyal to his family. The choices Creon made were based more on his pride and loyalty to himself and of course the state caused his own son and wife to take their lives, leaving him with such heartache and pain.
Creon said, “so senseless, so insane… my crimes/my stubborn, deadly”(1394-1395). Explaining how his loyalty to himself was just what it was he never thought he would be the one in so much pain because of his mistake he made by willing to punish Antigone for breaking a rule he decided to put in place. If he would have just put his ego and pride aside and let Antigone off with a less punishment he would have still stayed loyal to his state but would have also showed loyalty to his family as well.
Everyday people put their lives on the line in honor of their loyalty to family, religion and state. While these matters are important in life, they definitely played a great role in the play Antigone. Another huge role was the Gods and how Antigone felt that she was being loyal to them, claiming “all for reverence, my reverence for the gods”(1035). The last of her words was showing how she felt she also buried her brother because she knew the gods would want it that way. For her being punished she knew the gods would be looking down on Creon and he would get what he deserved.
Creon was sticking to his word, about no one being able to bury Polynices, he was being loyal to himself and the state. He didn’t know his choice he made would cause so much pain and suffering but in the end his loyalty was just in the wrong place, even though as king he felt like it was exactly where it should have been. Once a prophet came in to talk to Creon to let him know something tramatic was going to happen, is when Creon realized he needed to be loyal to the Gods and respect their wishes.
He didn’t want to be punish for being selfish but by then he was too late. The gods had spoken and he was left with nothing but pain. Creon said, “when the god came down and struck me-a great weight/shattering, driving me down that wild savage path”(1404-1405). Loyalty towards the Gods was something that was a very big deal in Greek but not being loyal towards what they believed in was something they paid the price for, as you saw with Creon. Antigone and Creon both were loyal in one way or another.
It did cause Antigone’s death and Creon pain for the fact his wife and son died. Both characters displayed hubris but it lead more towards Creon since I believe he was the one who suffered the worst. In the end trying to keep a perfect balance with basic loyalties and happiness they can’t always go hand in hand, that is why both suffered. Work Cited Sophocles. Antigone. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. 5th ed. Ed. John Schilb and John Clifford. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. 1309-1348.