Antigone – Translations and Creon
Antigone is a well written and rehearsed play for about a thousand years. It is known as a Greek tragedy that has remembered characters and gives life lessons. One character in particular that is fascinating is Creon in both of the translations of Richard Braun and Jean Anouilh. Braun’s Kreon is not only spelled different than Anouilh but he also has a different attitude such as one of determination and sturdiness in making laws. Anouilh’s Creon in the play Antigone is more persuaded by other characters in the story when it comes to decision making such as by his son Haemon.
By comparing and contrasting both Braun’s and Anouilh’s K/Creon, it is evident that Braun’s Kreon is most consistent in his own behaviors and proclamations. To understand why Braun’s Kreon is more consistent, one has to compare the similarities between both K/Creons. The story line of Antigone stayed the same for the most part, therefore, naturally, both K/Creons made a law that told the people of Thebes that none were allowed to bury Polynices and the punishment for disobeying this law would be death. They are both power hungry kings that do not care for their authority to be questioned.
Both have a temper and the suspicious feeling that someone is trying to take the title of king from him. “The precious, innocent blood of a child on my hands. They must have accomplices in the Guard itselfWould you defy me with your little shovel? Of course you would. You would do it, too” (Anouilh 36).
“They mutter about me, they hide, shake their heads,/ instead of properly shouldering the yoke and working with,/ the team,/ which is the one way of showing love to me. / those are the men that did this, I’m positive. they were seduced with money unless you find me the perpetrator of this burial,/ death won’t be enough,/ you’ll hang alive till you tell me who did it,/ just so you’ll, all of you, know from then on,/ not to take bribes, and learn that your love,/ of getting what you can where you can is wrong”(Braun’s 32-33).
The differences that distinguish the two K/Creons are their reactions to events that happen in the play and how they approach the solution. Braun’s Kreon has the tone of being more serious and persistent in his goals. When he set the edict of no one is to bury Polynices, he meant it.
It was as if he showed no sympathy or no way for Antigone to redeem herself. When she violated the edict, Kreon held his stance when he found out that it was Antigone who committed the crime. “Laws were made. She broke them. / Rebellion to think of it, / then to do it and do it again, / now more defiance, bragging about it, / she did it and she’s laughing. ’ I’m no man-/ she is a man, she’s the king-/ if she gets away with this. / My niece, or let her be/ closer than any who pray at my home hearth,/ she and her kin cannot prevent their doom” (Braun 40).
He did not show sympathy when Ismene pleaded for her sister. Ismene even pointed out the fact that she and Haemon were supposed to get married and still Kreon did not bend. Instead he told her “No. Death will stop that wedding. / and this is the end: / I’m sick of you and this marriage business” (Braun 44). Shortly after, his son came to change his father’s mind, but again, Kreon would not make an exception. “I caught her in open rebellion, / her alone out of all the nation. / I won’t be a leader who lies to his people. / No: I will kill her” (Braun 47).
Braun’s Kreon was tough and a strong leader. He may have not been right in his actions but he stuck to them anyway and did not back down from anyone who tried to defy him, no matter the pressure he was under. This demonstrated how important it was for Kreon to position himself against his decision of the punishment that was given to Antigone, proving that Kreon was a tough, power driven brute that was not yielding to the demands of others. Only after listening to what Koryphaios had to say, Kreon then yield to letting Antigone go but not without resentment.
“‘Go, release the girl from the cave. and build a tomb for the body you cast out. ’/ ‘that’s your advice? To give in? Oh, it’s hard. This is not what I hoped. / I’ll do as you say. I must not fight/ wrongly, only to be defeated, against fate” (Braun 63-64). Anouilh’s Creon was the opposite of Braun’s Kreon. While Braun’s Kreon was ruthless and hard headed, Anouilh’s Creon seemed more yielding to other people. He gave off the impression of kind of being soft and too eager to please people. However, there was a point in the story were it seemed as if Creon was not going to give into the influence of other people.
Did you by any chance act on the assumption that a daughter of Oedipus, a daughter of Oedipus’ stubborn pride, was above the law? … You thought that because you come of the royal line, because you were my niece and were going to marry my son, I shouldn’t dare have you killed” (Anouilh 44). Nevertheless, this did not last long because he let the feelings he has for his son dictate how he was going to handle this situation. “I have other plans for you. You’re going to marry Haemon, and you’re going to give him a sturdy boy” (Anouilh 46).
Although he was king and set the edict that no one shall bury Polynices, he was more influenced by the people around him. For example, when Braun’s Kreon found out that Antigone was the one to break the his law, he went forth with the punishment and sentenced Antigone to death. He also made sure that his punishment was sought through. With Anouilh’s Creon, he was too heavily influenced by the people around him. When he found out that Antigone was the one to defy him he simply told her to forget about what she has done and to marry his son. “Very well. Now you listen to me.
You will go straight to your room. When you get there, you will go to bed. You will say that you are not well and that you have not been out since yesterday. Your nurse will tell the same story. And I will dispose of those three men”(Anouilh 43). After telling Antigone of his plans, it was not him who decided her fate but Antigone herself. She knew what she did was wrong and wanted Creon to follow through with the punishment that she was to bear. “‘You must want very much to die.
You look like a trapped animal. ’ ‘Stop feeling sorry for me. Do as I do. Do your job’ ‘I want to save you, Antigone. ‘Neither save me nor stop me only this you can do: have me put to death” (Anouilh 48). Shortly after Antigone was sent away to endure her sentencing, like in both stories, Haemon finds his father and tries to talk him out of decision. “I did everything I could to save her, Haemon. I sued every argument. I swear I did. The girl doesn’t love you. She could have gone on living for you; but she refused.
She wanted it this way: she wanted to die” (Anouilh 61). Haemon pressed the issue some more, telling his father that “if you kill Antigone, they will hate you! meaning the people of Thebes and that is one of Creon’s fears. At first he response with “Silence! The edict stands! ”, but when Creon is told by the messenger that his son is in danger, he is more than willing to break his decision that he has made for Antigone. However, he is too late and both Antigone and Haemon have died. Once both Braun’s Kreon and Anouilh’s Creon were examined closely, it is obvious that Braun’s Kreon was more consistent in his character and proclamations. The evidence in both version of Antigone shows how these characters are alike and yet, very different at the same time.
Braun’s Kreon was more sturdy and reliable. It was clear that when this Kreon made up his mind, he was going to stick to his ideas and decisions that he made. Some people may view this as a noble trait in a king but to have a great king, the king needs to realize that one cannot be a dictator. It is about the pleasing of the masses because without them, there is not a leader to rule over the people. Although Anouilh’s Creon showed that he cared about the people, or at least the best interest that was going to keep him in power, it seemed as if he did not have a backbone in his proclamations.
He set an edict to not bury the traitor brother, Polynices but he tried to weasel out of it. When he found out that it was Antigone that was to serve his punishment, he tried every way possible to make sure that Antigone was an exception. It was kind that he tried to look into the best interest of his son but as a leader, one has to stick to the laws they make or else the world, society would be chaos. So it seems that Braun’s Kreon takes the title of being the most consistent in his character and proclamations because he was the least K/Creon to change his mind and let other people influence him.