Antigone and the Importance of Marriage
The helpfulness of marriage in Antigone, written by Sophocles, is debatable, but the importance of marriage is not. The relation between views on marriage and the importance of it is undeniable; all of the protagonists can be linked to and with it. Though some characters in Antigone see marriage as a unfortunate necessity, marriage must be present to provide the characters with a reason to interact with each other. Through the couples in Antigone, marriage is depicted as either a helpful, wonderful event or a horrendous occasion that is an unfortunate necessity; the relation of marriage and value in Antigone is clear through the actions of all the protagonists.
It is arguable that marriages in Antigone are helpful, for many reasons. One of the biggest displays of the benefits of marriage occurs when Haimon appeals to Creon to let Antigone go: “Then she must die- but her death will cause another.” (III, 119) Epitomizing love, Haimon is ready to sacrifice his own life to save the one that to whom he is betrothed. Haimon understands that Antigone disobeyed Creon’s ultimatum, and perhaps that is why he loves her so much: she is his opposite yet equal; she is fearless and headstrong, while Haimon is shyer, more thoughtful and reserved in speaking, and that is why Haimon wishes to save her. He is true to his claim: “And as he died/ He gathered Antigone close in his arms again, / Choking, his blood bright red on her white cheek. / And now he lies with the dead, and she is his/ At last, his bride in the house of the dead. “(Exodus, 72-76) Haimon told his father that he cared for Antigone so much that if Creon persisted in following the law he set, even though the townspeople were compassionate towards Antigone’s cause, and ordered the death of Antigone, that he would die with her. And he did just that. This was one of the most effective moves made against Creon in Antigone. Until then, Creon had been operating under the notion that he had control over everything including how everyone should act and think. Creon soon realizes that nothing is ever perfect, especially not in his world: “Whatever my hand has touched has come to nothing. / Fate has brought all my pride to a thought of dust.” (Exodus, 137 & 138) Creon will have to learn his lesson about control the hard way, unfortunately: after everyone he loves is taken from him. But like in every good tragedy, the lesson cannot be learned until the end.
Marriage, however, could be seen as hurtful as it is helpful. Most of the predicaments in Antigone can be traced back to marriage; many individuals perish because of marriage. Haimon beseeches his father Creon to release Antigone, and tries to reason with him, but all this argument leads to is the enraging of Creon: “Every word you say is for her!” (III, 116) Haimon attempts to reason with Creon that letting Antigone go would not be showing weakness, in fact it might gain him more public approval by showing his compassionate side. Nevertheless, Creon begins to wonder about his son, and depreciates him for falling in love, particularly with Antigone, and as choosing to follow the pathway of his heart over the pathway of his mind. His hypocrisy showing through, Creon looks down upon his son for becoming enamored with a woman and wearing his heart on his sleeve for her, while he himself is completely and openly devastated when he is told that his wife has died: “I have been rash and foolish. / I have killed my son and my wife.” (Exodus, 134 & 135) Eurydice is heartbroken when she hears of Haimon’s death, and kills herself. This fatal action finally makes Creon realize just how much his controversial decisions have affected his loved ones. Whether he will permanently change for the future is uncertain as it is very hard for some individuals to make changes. Insistence of being in control at all times and in all aspects of life is an issue that takes a while to move away from and really change. If Creon stepped back from the minor details of running Thebes to observe his own life, he would realize what he is doing to his people, his family, and himself. His family suffers the most as the greater part of his living family members die in a way that he is directly responsible for.
Marriage has value for every person, whether it is astronomical or minimal. Maybe it was due to the way that each individual person was raised, or to how they were educated or treated by others or society; the number of reasons is inconceivably infinite. Antigone, self-assured and confident, does not outwardly show any emotion or opinion towards or against marriage, but through her words she shows that she is at least thinking about it: “Now, before it is my time to die, Surely this is no hardship” (II, 67 & 68) Antigone knows that she is alone in her mission to bury her brother, and she knows why, too: though she is widely supported in the private conversations of the townspeople, many of them think her crazy to contradict the law instituted by Creon. Creon’s perceived value of the marriage is rather truncated: “So you are right/ Not to lose your head over this woman. / Your pleasure with her would soon grow cold, Haimon.” (III, 20 & 21) Creon believes that women are substandard to men and that Haimon would be happy with any woman, so he should not be fixed completely on any individual female, in this case, Antigone. Haimon’s value of marriage and his own betrothal to Antigone in particular, is the highest of all the characters: “If you are a woman: my concern is only for you.” (III, 109) Haimon believes in the virtue of love and he loves Antigone dearly, as much as he loves his father, his mother, and the subjects of the kingdom that he will one day reign over. Haimon is willing to fight for his love, therefore he is worthy of it: to love and be loved in return.
By looking at the big picture of Antigone, it is clear that marriage is more of a negative aspect than a positive aspect, and regrettably so. All those who were married suffered with all of those who were not. Antigone never married because she is sentenced to death: this sentence given by a married man. Haimon never married because he sentenced himself to death in an attempt to save his bride: as an indirect result of a married man that had to quench his pride and show off the power and control he possessed. Eurydice killed herself, and she is married: also indirectly by the same married man who happened to be her own dear husband. Though her role in the dialogue is small, her actions in the end bring the disastrous and tragic story to its conclusion. That being said, this story is a tragedy, and like most tragedies, it can be traced back to the fault of most tragic Greek heroes: pride, and until we as human can separate ourselves from pride, we will never have the peaceful and harmonious life that we seek.
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