Antigone vs Creon
?Task: Write an essay about the conflict between Antigone and Creon in Antigone, by Sophocles. Show how each is right in his or her own fundamental belief. Then show how the tragedy was inevitable or show how one side was wrong and should have changed. In Antigone, by Sophocles, there is conflict between the characters Antigone and Creon. Antigone is characterized as a rebellious girl, who turns into a martyr, and just lost both her brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, in a war between the city-states of Thebes and Argos.
Eteocles was fighting the war on Thebes’s side, Thebes is where they live, but Polynices was fighting for the Argos army. Creon, the king of Thebes as well as Antigone’s uncle, has made a law that Polynices may not be given proper burial rights on the account of him being a traitor to Thebes. Antigone feels personally victimized by this law, she feels as though Creon has created this law entirely for her and Ismene, her sister. Antigone, the rebel, defies Creon’s orders and “buries” Polynices with one handful of dirt and in return is arraigned and executed, or more accurately committed suicide while she sat in her death chamber.
Personally, I feel that both characters are wrong in their actions; however, I don’t fully understand the thought processes of ancient Theban citizens either. “Hasn’t Creon graced one with all the rites, / disgraced the other? Eteocles, they say, / has been given full military honors, / rightly so- Creon has laid him in the earth/ and he goes with glory down among the dead. / But the body of Polynices, who died miserably- / why, a city-wide proclamation, rumor has it, / forbids anyone to bury him, even mourn him (Antigone 27-34). ” Antigone goes on to explain to Ismene that she believes that Creon has imposed this law specifically for them.
This quote from Antigone shows the conflict of the entire play. Antigone has a great love for both of her brothers and feels that they both deserve to be buried even though Polynices had fought against Thebes. Antigone’s actions are justified by the fundamental fact that everybody deserves to be laid to rest; but there is no way to escape the punishment of going against the King’s orders. “It is important to remember the natural instinct of all modern readers is to sympathize fully with Antigone (Knox 39). ” Although I don’t completely sympathize with Antigone, I don’t believe that she deserved to die in vain for what she did.
Creon is characterized as an authoritarian tyrannical ruler. He created the law stating that nobody was to bury the body of Polynices because he betrayed the city of Thebes. Creon was right to make his law because Polynices was a turncoat and died on Theban soil. Although his law was harsh, he believed that he was in the right because a villain such as Polynices did not deserve a proper burial. Creon was especially enraged when Antigone disregarded his law because Polynices was her brother, “Oh but I hate it more / when a traitor, caught red-handed, / tries to glorify his crimes (Creon 552-554). This tragedy was to be expected because of Antigone and Creon’s personalities. Antigone is stubborn and rebellious. She loved her brother, Polynices, deeply and was devastated when he died. Creon used brute divine right to punish Antigone by not allowing Polynices to be buried, devastating her even further. I feel that both characters were wrong. Antigone loved her brother and I’m sure she made that perfectly clear whilst he was alive. Because of this, Antigone should not have risked her life to defend her brother’s dead body.
It must be awful for Antigone to have to acknowledge that a loved one is the equivalent of carrion but as long as Polynices knew that he was loved before he died, Antigone shouldn’t have become a martyr to pride. Creon was also wrong “by the end of the play it is made clear that his action is a violation of divine law…in the end the gods, through their spokesman, the Prophet Tiresias, uphold [Antigone’s] claim that divine law does indeed prescribe burial for all dead men (Knox 38). ” Creon should not have made such a strict and binding law that he knew Antigone would not resist.
In conclusion, Antigone and Creon were both righteous and foolish in their actions. Antigone should have known better than to go against the king’s order and listened to Ismene. Creon should have not been so tyrannical in his law. Their actions together resulted in the death of Antigone, Haemon (Creon’s son and Antigone’s groom), and Eurydice (Creon’s wife). This could have been avoided if either character had seen the situation from the other character’s point of view. Bibliography Fagles, Robert. The Three Theban Plays. United States of America: Penguin Classics, 1984.