Comparison Between Creon and Antigone in Oedipus the King
In the Oedipus plays, two of the major characters include Creon, the brother in law of Oedipus and Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus. Although these two characters play different roles in the plays Oedipus the King and Antigone, they share a lot of similarities.
Basically, one of the similarities that Creon and Antigone have is that the burdens that they carried throughout the plays were passed down to them by Oedipus following his downfall and exile. After Oedupis’s exile, Creon assumed the throne of Thebes and took control of the city.
Although his intentions in ruling Thebes are pure, like Oedipus who refused to listen to the blind prophet when he told him that he was the one who murdered his father, Creon’s judgment was blinded when he initially refused to give proper burial rites to his enemy, Polynices, Oedipus son.
As a result, Antigone, hanged herself, causing her lover Haemon, Creon’s son, to kill himself as well. Likewise, Antigone inherited the stubbornness of his father when she defied Creon’s order deny the corpse of Polynices, her brother, a proper burial. For her defiance, Creon had her thrown into a tomb, where she committed suicide through hanging.
In short, both Creon and Antigone were affected by Oedipus’s tragic downfall as he apparently passed down his misfortunes to those who succeeded him and to his family members.
Antigone herself said this in her conversation with her sister, in which she said “My own flesh and blood—dear sister, dear Ismene, how many griefs our father Oedipus handed down! Do you know one, I ask you, one grief that Zeus will not perfect for the two of us while we still live and breathe? There’s nothing, no pain—our lives are pain—no private shame, no public disgrace, nothing I haven’t seen in your grief and mine.”
In other words, Antigone spoke as if tragedies are passed down in Oedipus’s family like they were family heirlooms.
Moreover, both Creon and Antigone exemplified also suffered the same losses. Creon lost his son, Haemon, and his wife, Eurydice who both committed suicide while Antigone lost her father, Oedipus, and her two brothers, Polynices and Eteocles, who killed each other while fighting over who would rule over Thebes. In other words, both characters were left alone in their personal battles.
However, while the two characters share several similarities, they also have various differences. For one, Antigone acknowledges the past tragedies as shown in the quote above and uses them as a motivation to move forward. Moreover, she is more bold and prudent than Creon as shown during their confrontation in which he asked her why she was defying him and she answered, “I didn’t say yes. I can say no to anything I say vile, and I don’t have to count the cost. But because you said yes, all that you can do, for all you’re crown and your trappings, and your guards—all that your can do is to have me killed.”
On the other hand, Creon is a manipulative and narrow-minded person as shown in his initial refusal to believe in the blind prophet’s prediction. His personality is best shown in his description of Thebes wherein he said, “Anarchy—show me a greater crime in all the earth! She, she destroys cities, rips up houses, breaks the ranks of spearmen into headlong rout. But the ones who last it out, the great mass of them owe their lives to discipline. Therefore we must defend the men who live by law, never let some woman triumph over us. Better to fall from power, if fall we must, at the hands of a man—never be rated inferior to a woman, never.”
In sum, while both characters share similarities due to their close relationship with Oedipus, they also have differences that distinguish their characters. Antigone is a realistic, decisive yet stubborn character while Creon is a person who holds himself in high esteem but later realizes he is human as well.
“Oedipus the King.” 2008. The Internet Classics Archive. 3 April 2008 <http://classics.mit.edu/Sophocles/oedipus.html>.
“Antigone.” 2008. 2008. The Internet Classics Archive. 3 April 2008 <http://classics.mit.edu/Sophocles/antigone.html>.