Antigone

This essay has a total of 1487 words and 6 pages.

Antigone

One commentator has argued in "Antigone" that Antigone's "view of what is right is as
twisted as that of Creon." Although I do not believe that either Antigone's or Creon's
view is "twisted," I do believe that their fate is a direct result of their extreme pride
and stubbornness. In "Antigone," Sophocles examines the conflict between the requirements
of human and divine law that is centered on the burial of Polynices, Antigone's brother
and Creon's nephew. On the issue of the burial, their views are opposed and they each
believe that one is right and the other is wrong.


The views of Antigone and Creon are opposed, and they both possess the same stubborn
belief in their own righteousness. This ultimately brings them both to their tragic fate.
At first we believe that Creon acts from sincere, patriotic and unselfish motives, and
that he is acting out of a sincere belief that his decision is best for the state. This is
shown in the first episode (lines 163 - 331), where Creon hopes to be a wise and good
ruler. Later on we learn that he is too inflexible and narrow to heed criticism or admit
fault, and that this causes all the misery in his life. The same is true of Antigone. She
appears to be a very compassionate individual in the prologue; however, later on we learn
that she is also stubborn and unwilling to bend in her beliefs, which ultimately leads her
to her tragic fate.


We come to know of Antigone's plan to bury her brother in the prologue. She confides to
Ismene that she knows of Creon's edict, but that she intends to defy it. At Ismene's
protests of not defying the king's orders, Antigone states that there are higher
obligations to the dead and the gods. She points out (lines 85 - 91): "I will bury him
myself, and even if I die in the act the death will be a glory. I will lie with the one I
love and loved by him - an outrage sacred to the gods! I have longer to please the dead
than please the living here: in the kingdom down below I will lie forever. Do as you like,
dishonor the laws the gods hold in honor." Antigone feels it is her duty to bury her
brother and is in her view fulfilling a higher law. She believes that she is acting
according to her religious duty and that she cannot dishonor the laws the gods have
established. Here Antigone appears to be a selfless and compassionate individual, willing
to risk her life in order to provide her brother his sacred rights. We feel compassion and
sympathy towards her, since she is willing to stand for her religious beliefs and risk her
life in the process.


In the second episode, Creon's Sentry captures Antigone at Polynices' graveside. When
Antigone is brought before Creon, she proudly admits that the Sentry's recount of the
story is true and that she buried Polynices. Creon suspects that Ismene, Antigone's
sister, is also involved. However, Antigone contemptuously recounts her sister's earlier
refusal to assist him. In this scene, Antigone is shown to be a woman with extreme pride,
arrogance, and stubbornness. She states again and again that she is just following the
dictates of the gods and is not willing to listen to Creon's logic. When Ismene is brought
in, Antigone treats her with contempt and appears very harsh. This shows a very inflexible
and hard character.


We are introduced to Creon in the first episode. Creon views that the laws of the state as
the highest laws, and therefore decrees that the traitor Polynices should not be given a
burial. He believes in the principle that the state will honor those who are loyal to the
state, and punish the ones that are traitors. He states, "Whoever places a friend above
the good of his own country, he is nothing: I have no use for him." Here in his opening
speech, Creon appears to be a wise and just ruler, wanting to always keep the interests of
the state and the people foremost in his mind. His edict is from the most honorable of
motives, wanting to keep the higher interests of the state. Although Polynices is his
nephew, he keeps an objective view and refuses his burial as an example to others that
would be traitors of the state. At the end of the scene, we notice how quickly his tone
changes when he discovers that his authority has been disobeyed. He threatens the Sentry
with death if he does not find the criminals who buried Polynices. Here Creon is revealed
to be a man of high ideals but of immense pride and self-righteousness.


In the third scene, Haemon tells his father that the people of the city feel it would be
better to spare Antigone. Creon resists his son's interference and a heated argument
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