The Hero Archetype: Antigone and Lysistrata
Through the many tales of heroic deeds that have been told over the centuries, a picture has been painted as to the appearance and interpretation of the archetypical character of the hero. This character has been portrayed as a masculine figure who conquers all monsters and challenges in his path through strength, will, and determination, usually having to call upon a super-human ability, be it physical or intellectual, to defeat an oppressor. However, this typical view of the hero does not suit all characters who still can be classified under this archetype. In fact, through many ancient Greek plays, women have taken on the roles of the hero, having a much different quality and approach to their problem-solving than their male counterparts. Two such women who show great heroic qualities through their respective plays are Antigone and Lysistrata, who serve as the heroines of their tales. Through an analysis and comparison of the actions of the characters of Antigone and Lysistrata in the plays Antigone by Sophocles and Lysistrata by Aristophanes, respectively, clear conclusions can be drawn as to the stature of these female protagonists as heroic female characters.
Antigone follows the Oedipus trilogy, wherein Oedipus has already found out the seeds of his sins, and has put out his eyes and renounced his rule of Thebes. Jocasta, Oedipus’ mother and wife, is dead, and her brother Creon claims the throne as his own. After the bloody mess that Oedipus left in his wake, his daughter Antigone is left to weigh the horrific aftermath, including preparing for the burial of her brother Polynices. However, in light of the conflict that emerges even after the death of Oedipus, Antigone by law is not allowed to bury her family member, thus starting her heroic quest for a proper humane burial for her brother: “I will As for me, I’ will bury him; and if I die for that, I am content. I shall rest like; a loved one with him whom I have loved, innocent in my guilt” (Sophocles 160-162). This statement by Antigone is truly what gives the heroic nature to her quest, for she wishes only to complete that which is right by humanitarian law, not by rule of the king, even if doing so means self-sacrifice.
Lysistrata has a much more straightforward battle to fight than Antigone did. Rather than having to battle against injustice emanating from her own family, Lysistrata is faced with injustice against her entire gender, wherein the women of Athens have become nothing more than meat-sacks for their men as they return from battle and leave and leave again as they please. Lysistrata sees this for what it is, the abuse of women through the patriarchal society in which she lives, and she addresses this with the other woman in Athens. Lysistrata is convinced that should she and the other women band together in a strike against sex, then they can gain control over the males in society, in an essential reversal of power. To accomplish her heroic goal, of improving the lives of women across Athens, she has them take Oath to her purpose, “I have nothing to do with husband or lover; Even when he approaches me upright and ready” (Aristophanes). Through this mantra, Lysistrata is able to rally the women of Athens to her cause as she pursues a better societal status for her gender.
Although the burial of a family member, or the beginning of a civil movement, may not seem like a heroic deed, the characters of Antigone and Lysistrata further their status through their inherent devotion to their cause. The mark of a truly devoted person, or a hero, is a willingness to sacrifice personal comfort to accomplish greater goals. This quality is shared by both of these female characters, and indeed perhaps is their most heroic quality. In Antigone this is seen in in two simple lines, after being lectured by the King as to the illegality of her actions, “I am ready; for there is no better way I could prepare for death than by giving burial to my brother” (Sophocles 402-403). These lines and indeed the entire speech from Antigone truly show her devotion to her brother, and thereby solidify her position as a hero; she is doing no wrong, but instead seeking to accomplish a moral and just act, to which ends she is willing to die to complete. Similarly Lysistrata is forced to take this same aggressive stance in front of the rule of Athens: “LYSISTRATA You would kill me here in Athens—birthplace of discourse and reason? MAGISTRATE Athens is a city of laws. LYSISTRATA –The laws of a barbarian. MAGISTRATE Submit to me now or I use this. LYSISTRATA kneels” (Aristophanes). In the same way that Antigone is willing to sacrifice her life to be allowed to bury her brother, Lysistrata is willing to sacrifice her status to show that women should no longer be used as objects of sex. Although death for a cause such as Antigone’s classifies as textbook martyrdom, in these cases the possibility is much more.
To be a martyr is to die willingly for your cause; however, the cause which is being fought over becomes the defining principle. Martyrs can be of any faith, religion, or purpose; however, a hero will always fight for and advocate that which is just, moral, and right. In this way, a hero is more noble than a martyr, as a hero is both a leader and an example of how others should act, and how others should aspire to respond to social and civil injustices. Although Antigone was not successful in completing her goal, and Lysistrata more so was, their results do not change their classification or level of heroics; it is not the result that matters, but the purposes and means through which goals are accomplished that create and classify heroes.
A Comparison of the Plays Macbeth and Antigone
“Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.” F. Scott Fitzgerald isn’t the only novelist who uses tragedy, in specific, tragic heroes, in his storylines to promote the disastrous happenings caused by fate. Both Shakespeare and Sophocles incorporate tragic heroes in their plays Macbeth and Antigone. A tragic hero, by definition, is often someone who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, but at the same moment, reveals strength, courage, and independence no matter what fate has set out for him. Although Creon and Macbeth both share common aspects in tragedy; ultimately, Macbeth is more of a tragic hero than Creon because Macbeth was portrayed as a more respectable person than Creon was, however, unlike Creon, Macbeth never learned from his mistakes.
Although both Macbeth and Creon start out as good characters, Macbeth is portrayed more heroically because his actions speak louder than Creon’s bleak words, and he is influenced by his wife, Lady Macbeth, while Creon chose his own path. By possessing a supreme pride, having a capacity for suffering, and setting a belief in their own freedom, both Creon and Macbeth are defined as tragic heroes. Although Creon was depicted as a very wealthy and feared king, he is still a flawed human nonetheless. In Greek religion, kings had no power to question the law of the gods, however, that is exactly where Creon was testing the waters. In his monologue, Creon delivers his command in that “Polynices…is to have no burial: no man is to touch him or say the least pray for him; he shall lie on the plain, unburied.” (Line 29) However, Antigone still gives a proper burial to her brother, thus deliberately disobeying Creon. Creon states explicitly, “Oh but I hate it even more when a traitor, caught red-handed tries to glorify his crimes,” (Lines 552-554). By commanding no burial, Creon defies the “great unwritten, unshakable traditions” (Lines 502-503), known as the ancient law of the gods, since it is commanded that which in upon death, requires a proper burial. By doing so, he is not only going against both the gods and chorus, but even his own family in that he’s breaking apart his son’s marriage with a “traitor” just to prove his own supremacy and prideful thinking. In the same sense, Macbeth also refuses to give in to his surroundings. In the very beginning, Macbeth is described as “brave Macbeth” (Act 1, scene 2, Line 18) and a “worthy gentleman” (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 26) . When Ross discussed the battle, he says, “Till that Bellona’s bridegroom, lapped in proof. Confronted him with self-comparisons” (Act 1, Scene 3, Line 61-62) This quote exposes how Macbeth was a loyal and worthy warrior because “Bellona” alludes to the Roman goddess of war, and the phrase “Bellona’s bridegroom” implies that the individual is the fiercest warrior, because the goddess of war would only marry the most courageous, powerful warrior. “Lapped in proof…self-comparisons” indicates to be clothed in worthy armor while matching a foes attacks, which further emphasizes how Macbeth proved his bravery and loyalty to the king during that battle and was one of the best warriors in Norway. Even the king, Duncan, called him worthy as Ross describes him as being brave, pointing out that Macbeth is a war hero in the very beginning. This reinforces how Macbeth was a loyal citizen and was willing to die for his king, even though there was no close relationship between them. Macbeth’s actions confirm that his good character is believable and consistent because in society, people are only willing to die for things they truly believe in. However, Macbeth is manipulated by his wife, which leads to his downfall. When he says that he will not proceed any further in the planned murder of Duncan, his wife convinces him to continue, asking if he will just “live a coward in thine own esteem” (Act 1, Scene 7, Line 47) and urging him to “screw your courage to the sticking place” because “we’ll not fail” (Act 1, Scene 7, Lines 70-71). Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to hold onto his courage, which is ironic because it takes a coward to murder a sleeping king, but he will also be a coward if he does not kill the king, because there is no courage when one is betraying someone, yet Macbeth’s wife corrupts him and gives his pride a push, setting his downfall into motion. Creon isn’t as admirable as Macbeth because he was made king by circumstance and did not prove his loyalty to his country through his actions. Also, Creon chose his own actions that lead to his downfall and takes no orders from anybody. He says “You’ll never bury that body in the grave, Not even if Zeus’s eagles rip the corpse and wing their rotten pickings off to the throne of god!” (1151-1152) and tells Tiresias that he only speaks “it out for profit” Sophocles (1178). Macbeth was encouraged to betray the king, which led to his downfall, but Creon was discouraged to follow his own ways leading to his downfall when he followed his own path.
Although these two characters are both faced with tragedy, Macbeth is more tragic than Creon because while Creon was able to understand his mistake and correct himself, Macbeth was not given an opportunity to change. Creon also shows realization of all the trouble he has caused as he confesses, “And the guilt is all mine– can never be fixed on another man, no escape for me. I killed you, I, god help me, I admit it all!” (126) Creon admits his wrongdoings and transforms from a tyrant to a compassionate individual willing to change his ways. The pride that he once showed is now replaced with guilt and remorse. This shows how Creon is vulnerable to disappointments, griefs, and sorrows. Unlike Macbeth, Creon transitions from a flawed and prideful character to a sympathetic and regretful one and therefore makes Macbeth more tragic of the two. He says “Thou wast born of woman. But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn” (Act 5, Scene 7, Lines 15-17) and “I will not yield to kiss the ground before Malcolm’s feet” (Act 5, Scene 8, Lines 32-33). Macbeth now believes that he is invincible since he can only die to someone not born of a woman. “Swords I smile at” is a hyperbole, indicating that Macbeth is not afraid of swords or weapons because the blinding pride he possesses causes him to believe he cannot be killed. However, he is killed by Macduff before he can realize how his own ambition and pride changed him. Even to his dying breath, he did not “kiss the ground”, emphasizing how stubborn he was and emphasizes Macbeth’s strong will to do as he pleases and not surrender to anyone who stands in his way. This proves that Macbeth’s pride, pushed by his wife, led to his downfall because he believed no one could kill him, and even when nearing death, he refused to give up his pride. This is tragic because Macbeth is never given the chance to repent or realize the extent of the atrocities he committed. When pride is never acknowledged and never given up, fate takes over and leads to death.
Ultimately, Macbeth is more of a tragic hero compared to Creon despite their shared tragedies because Macbeth’s character was more believable and constant, as he never had the opportunity to comprehend his mindless acts or correct them. Creon went against everyone’s reason, yet had the chance to move on and improve his character. They both had a taste of fault but unlike Creon who learned to change himself for the better, Macbeth remains stubborn to his death. Both characters experienced a tragic downfall due to their pride, but Macbeth fell harder and farther.
Antigone and A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Comparison of Juxtaposing Antagonists
The success of the narrative arc of both Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone and Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream heavily rely on character interactions with the natural world. In each play respectively, the protagonists must purpose and negotiate elements of nature to achieve their particular objective. The plot of Antigone revolves around returning the body of Polynices to the natural world through a ritualistic burial process. Similarly, A Midsummer Night’s Dream involves a necessary pastoral escape to nature in order to resolve matters of unrequited, intertwined love affairs. Because the natural world drastically hinders the progress of the protagonists’ achievement of objective in both dramas, this conflict is emphasized as the central antagonistic force both in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Antigone. In Shakespeare’s classic pastoral play, a character versus environment conflict is emphasized for the main human protagonists. Thus, the natural world is clearly meant to be the central antagonist in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Most importantly, the human lovers’ central objectives of romantically connecting with other specific characters are ultimately delayed by a very specific natural element. Lysander, one of the lovers, states his primary objective within the lover’s first scene in the forest. He tells Hermia that he desires that they become “Two bosoms interchained with an oath” (II.ii.49). The realization of this goal is entirely prevented by the interference of a powerful “little Western flower”, which is vested with the faculty to “make man or woman madly dote/Upon the next live creature that it sees” (II.i.164-172). Instead of allowing Lysander and Hermia’s love for each other to continue undisturbed (and thus achieve Lysander’s objective), this natural element interferes directly with the amorous agenda of Lysander by making him lustfully pursue Helena, who Lysander (post interference of nature) now considers to be “the worthier maid” (II.ii.116). In the same manner, the flower directly interferes with the goal Hermia has adamantly fought for since the beginning of the play: being able to love Lysander, despite being betrothed to Demetrius by her father. This specific element of the natural world proves to be a similarly antagonistic force in Demetrius’ ability to achieve his objective in the play. Apart from his desire to marry Hermia, Demetrius’ central objective in the storyline is arguably to escape the sickening love of Helena (II.i.212). He repeatedly makes this objective clear by threatening Helena with “the mercy of wild beasts” and “mischief in the wood” should she continue to romantically pursue him (II.i.228, 237). It is the same Western flower that causes Demetrius to abandon his clearly established objective, and eventually act on the complete opposite. Because a natural element directly causes this removal and reversal of self-agency in a major character decision, it is clear that nature is also an antagonistic force in the individual narrative of Demetrius. Puck, the character that initiates the antagonistic contact between natural element and human character, cannot be considered an antagonist because of the removal of intentionality from his actions. Before leaving to execute the flower-human interaction, Puck clarifies that he is solely performing these actions as the servant of Oberon (II.i.268). In saying this, Puck removes himself from the ramifications of his interference, and transfers the consequences of his actions to the fairy king. As a consequence of contributing to the antagonism of the lovers, Oberon symbolically becomes part of the natural world. This integration of character into the fiber of the natural world is supported by the Studio Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The costume design of Alison Yanota purposefully clothes the actor playing Oberon (Stuart McDougall) in a garment composed almost entirely of fragments of wood and earth-toned fabric to convey that Oberon is effectively part of the natural world that antagonizes the lovers. The adversary force of nature becomes the central antagonist of the play because the lovers are the central protagonists of the story. Of the groups of characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the lover’s must overcome the most vicissitude in order to achieve happiness. Thus, their numerous conflicts compose a majority of the narrative body of the play. In addition, the lovers are arguably the most relatable characters that speak to the human experience. As a result, the audience can viscerally and more tangibly relate to their story, which endows their narrative with a distinctive importance. Because the natural world directly interferes with the lover’s fulfillment of character objectives, and there is no character that directly assumes the role of antagonist, nature has to be considered the main antagonistic force for these characters, and by virtue of this association, the natural world becomes the central antagonistic force in the entirety of the play. The conflict structure of Sophocles’ legend Antigone follows a similar pattern. The natural world is created as a comparatively vilified force that assumes the central antagonistic role within the play. Antigone, undoubtedly the protagonist of the text, clearly states her narrative objective early on in the first act. She intends to “heap a mound of earth over [her] brother” despite King Creon expressly forbidding this action (Sophocles, 128). This stated objective is further clarified when supported by historical evidence. In an article about death and the afterlife in Ancient Greece, the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City states that:
Ancient literary sources emphasize the necessity of a proper burial [for one to progress to the afterlife] and refer to the omission of burial rites as an insult to human dignity (Iliad, 23.71). Relatives of the deceased, primarily women, conducted the elaborate burial rituals… (The Met, 1)
When supported by this contextual evidence, it is clear that Antigone’s central objective is to allow her brother, Polynices, to progress to the afterlife through proper burial in the earth. It is the achievement of this objective that is entirely hindered by the interference of the natural world. Nature is explicitly vested with the authority to grant Polynices post-mortem bliss in the afterlife, but disallows the full completion of this process several times. After Antigone buries the body of her brother the first time, the sentry, following Creon’s orders, “swept off all the earth that covered the body” (137). After this action, Antigone is forced to repeat the entire burial action again, which gets her caught by the Sentry, and ultimately ends in her punishment and death by King Creon (138). It is through this action that nature prevents the achievement of Antigone’s central objective, as well as incites the pressures of a contagonistic force to contend with the protagonist character of the drama. Because of intricacy of a proper burial which nature demands in allowing Polynices to progress to the afterlife, Antigone’s objective in the play is never fully realized because of the time and specificity nature demands in completing this process. Antigone’s frustration with this repeated process (and therefore the natural world) is told through the Sentry’s words when he narrates that upon discovering Polynice’s body uncovered, Antigone is caught “screaming like an angry bird/When it finds its nest left empty and little ones gone” (137). Here, Antigone explicitly shows her vexation with natural forces in the denial of her achievement of objective. Antigone’s confrontation with nature also incites a separate pseudo-conflict with King Creon, furthering the notion that the central conflict within the play is nature versus character. Dramatica’s Theory of a Story defines a contagonistic character as one that “works to place obstacles in the path of the protagonist, and to lure it away from success” (Dramatica, ch. 3). If Antigone’s central aspiration is to achieve the proper burial of her brother, then King Creon is solely a contagonistic force that aids the central antagonistic natural world to hinder Antigone’s progression. Creon does so by sentencing Antigone to die in a “rock vaulted tomb”, thus removing Antigone’s agency to achieve her objective (Sophocles, 150). However, a natural element (the “rock vaulted tomb”) is still the force that physically prevents Antigone from pursuing the burial of Polynices for a third time and ultimately leads to her death, symbolizing the victory of antagonist over protagonist. It is also important to note the repeated negative connotations of nature by other characters in this text, as the Sentry demonstrates above. For example, King Creon, when accusing Ismene of participating in the burial of Polynices, calls her a “crawling viper” (140). Similarly, the chorus, when describing the divided household of King Creon, compares it to the “restless surge of the sea” and the consuming power of fire (143). Finally, Antigone, when describing her fate, compares herself to a Phrygian maid who was imprisoned in a fashion “merciless as the ivy”, while the “rain and snow/Beat down upon her” (148). Taken together, the repeated repudiation of a protagonist’s objective by natural elements, the symbolic death of Antigone while confined by natural elements, and the leitmotif of the negative associations of nature cumulatively create nature as a vilified, central antagonist in this play-text.
Both A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Antigone rely on the natural world to provide antagonistic forces for the protagonists of each respective story. In Shakespeare’s infallible comedy, nature removes character agency, interferes with the ability to achieve clearly defined objectives, and encompasses the other adversaries of the lover characters, who are the central protagonists of the piece. In Sophocles’ model tragedy, the natural world prevents the central character from achieving her clearly established narrative objective, creates a character versus character pseudo-conflict through this same denial, and is repeatedly characterized negatively by a variety of the text’s characters. In these ways, both texts employ the same intangible central antagonist: the natural world.
Characteristics of a King Who Can Fight Anarchy And Conflicts In Antigone
Throughout Antigone, Creon maintains complete confidence in his belief that, in order to prevent anarchy and chaos, the rule of a king must be obeyed even it contradicts proper morals and/or the will of the gods. The decisions that he makes in an effort to defend this belief ultimately lead to his downfall and the death of most of his family. Of the many opportunities he is given to retract his decree against the proper burial of Polynices, the most significant are Antigone’s dissent, Haemon’s suggestions, and Tiresias’ prophecy. Through the use of repeated examples illustrating Creon’s failure to change his views, Sophocles demonstrates his own belief that a king who puts his desires above maintaining a moral standing and the laws of the gods is ultimately corrupt and will inevitably be met with bitter consequences.
Antigone’s initial rebellious actions in reaction to Creon’s immoral decision directly exhibit how his belief causes anarchy rather than preventing it. In denying Polynices’ right to a proper burial, a right that is given to all human beings during this time period, Creon is not only acting immorally but also against the will of the gods. Antigone is the first in the play to realize his mistake and that it is her duty to break the rule of the king, claiming “that this crime is holy” (192). Her use of and attachment to the word “holy” portrays Antigone’s loyalty to divinity which happens to be the greatest contrast between her and Creon: their faith in the power of gods. While one could argue that Creon believes his word to be equal or even superior to that of the gods, Antigone “would not transgress the laws of heaven” even if she must act in opposition to the laws of the kingdom because she values life after death over which the gods have immense control(228). Through this statement, she explains how the law of the gods should always be upheld before the law of the kingdom no matter the circumstances. Yet her god-permitted dissent is not enough to swayed Creon’s stubborn mind, thus bringing out objection from a new, more significant source: family.
Creon’s second fatal mistake is his rejection of his own son’s plea to spare Antigone’s life. As Haemon fails to convince his father to change his mind, he becomes more and more disappointed in his father’s foolishness. At first he just suggests that “there are other men who can reason, too; and their opinions might be helpful” (218). Sophocles uses Haemon as a preacher of his own belief in the importance of understanding and even incorporating the ideas of others into one’s own ideas. It is also important to notice Haemon’s choice of words. In using vague language (“there are other men”) and the qualifier “might,” Haemon attempts to make a rational suggestion without offending Creon. However, the king remains stubborn leaving Haemon with no choice but to directly confront him. He even points out his father’s fatal flaw, stating that “it is not reason to never yield to reason” (219). In this remark, Haemon calls out his father for being so stubborn, specifically in his inability to recognize the good judgment of others when it contradicts his own opinions. Through his remark Haemon describes the type of leadership that should be expected of not only the king of Thebes, but the ruler of Athens as well. However, Creon’s stubbornness is too strong as he claims “My voice is the one voice giving orders in this city!” (220), once again denying the existence of the gods’ power within his city and demonstrating how his character in the play fails to understand the significance of the gods and their will. With stubbornness prevailing over even familial dissent, the gods must turn to Creon’s last opportunity to fix his mistakes — through the tongue of a prophet.
The final and most crucial mistake that Creon makes is his disbelief of the blind soothsayer Tiresias’ cautionary prophecy about his absolute rule. As Sophocles attempts again to convey his moral values through his characters, Tiresias states that “a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong” (232). Not only is a literal voice for the gods giving Creon general advice for leadership, but he is also directly stating that the actions that he is currently making are actually wrong. Regrettably, he once again fails to take advice from others, even if it comes from the mouth of a prophet who has previously successfully demonstrated the strength of his abilities to Creon, claiming that “Tiresias, it is a sorry thing when a wise man sells his wisdom, lets out his words for hire” (232). With those words, Creon made his worst mistake of all: repeating the same blunders as Oedipus, a man from whose mistakes he should have learned. In failing to learn from the mistakes of his previous ruler, who was an infamously poor example of a king, Creon has made it clear that he is not worthy of his position in the kingdom. Even with three different chances, each with incentives and logic exceeding the last, he refuses to back down, forcing the wrath of the gods upon himself and causing the deaths of his son, his future daughter in-law, and his wife.
Antigone is a guide by which Sophocles hopes to teach his audience of proper democratic morals. Through Creon’s mistakes and failure to make amends to his situation, Sophocles demonstrates the corrupt nature of leading like such a king and the power and importance of the qualities of humility and self-reflection. While Creon believes that any order of a king must be upheld in order to prevent anarchy and chaos, Sophocles explains instead that others’ opinions must be appreciated, one must be willing to recognize their own mistakes and either attempt to undo them or prevent a recurrence of such mistakes, and that one’s desires must never be held above the will of the gods. Creon’s character is the representation of a leader that is undesirable as a ruler of Athens, giving Sophocles the power to explain the characteristics that are needed in a king in the 400s B.C.E. and into the future.
The Alliance of Spears by Creon in Antigone
In Sophocles’ Antigone, Creon makes reference to an “alliance of spears” as a metaphor pertaining to the necessary allegiance a society has to its ruler. Initially he feels his authority must be proven as absolute and in an act of hubris he attempts to prohibit the appropriate burial of an enemy. In so doing Creon oversteps his bounds from the world of nomos to the realm of physis and is confronted with the naturally occurring limitations of political authority. Creon’s “alliance of spears” then adopts a new significance from an enlightened position.
In order to gain a full understanding of the issues that exist in Antigone one must first become aware of the circumstances that have placed Creon in his position of power. Creon ascended to the throne by contested birthright and has limited experience as a leader. As a result, Creon is an insecure leader conscious of the image he projects. He makes this known to his chorus: “No man has a mind that can be fully known, in character of judgment, till he rules and makes law; only then can he be tested in the public eye.” His decision to forbid an honorable burial for Polyneices was made hastily but demanded enforcement, as any recanting of his decree would display weakness and indecision. As the Watchman suggests, “Second thoughts make any plan look bad.” Creon is endorsing a hard-line, tyrannical type of politics in an attempt to demonstrate his authority over Thebes. Unfortunately, Creon ventured beyond the area of human law that he was entitled to rule and stepped into the area of natural law; an area dictated only by the gods.
The spheres of natural law and human law appear to be known and respected in Thebes, but some people still contest it. The initial discourse between Antigone and Ismene reveals this ambiguity. In a vain attempt to dissuade Antigone from defying Creon’s decree, Ismene states, “We are women and we do not fight with men. We’re subject to them because they’re stronger, and we must obey this order, even if it hurts us more.” This statement indicates that Ismene believes her patriarchal society is a result of natural law that cannot be broken; she represents the typical citizen who grudgingly accepts the whims of a dictator. Antigone, on the other hand, is aware of the “deep shame and dishonor” her parents left her; feeling she has little to lose, she is willing to defy the law.
At first glance it appears that the main conflict in the play is between Creon and Antigone, but Creon’s decision to interfere with Polyneices’ burial puts him in direct conflict with the unwritten law of nature. So in actuality the main conflict in the play involves Creon and his own position on the depth of his political authority. Antigone is simply a voice of righteousness that is unwilling to concede to Creon’s unjust proclamation. Antigone represents the subconscious or repressed opinions of the average citizens in Thebes. This image of Antigone as a repressed individual is only compounded by the fact that she is a woman in a deeply patriarchal society.
Though Creon holds the necessary power to demand anything he wishes he cannot influence anything beyond human control. An example of this can be seen in the area of general social opinions. It is not a requisite for Creon to consider any of his citizens’ opinions in a dictatorship like Thebes; Creon’s “alliance of spears” maintains its efficacy as long as all follow the will of one. Despite this hindrance it is obvious that common social opinion exists. The Watchman offers an apt example when he generalizes, “No one loves the man who brings bad news.” This statement supports the notion that social opinions exist independently of political control. Creon may tell citizens they must respect a messenger who carries bad news, but has no way to ensure wholehearted adherence to a decree that directly opposes natural law.
Similarly, Creon’s mandate that no one honor Polyneices’ death contradicts the natural emotions that cannot be ruled. A mortal leader who tries to dictate who can and cannot pass to the next life is performing the duties of a god, transcending the sphere of human law. Antigone recognizes this trespass against “what the gods hold dear,” arguing that she “never heard it was Zeus who made that announcement” and that Creon’s pronouncements did not give him “power to trample the gods’ unfailing, unwritten laws.” .
Antigone tries to tell Creon that others share her opinion but Creon perceives her insubordination as an aberration from the fragile “alliance of spears” he has fashioned from the citizens of Thebes. He feels threatened by Antigone’s assertions and is wary of the fact that she is closer to the “household shrine for Zeus” than he is. Creon knows that Antigone’s dissent could cause the “alliance” to deviate from his intended course, so he sentences Antigone to death. Meanwhile, general social opinion supports Antigone’s claim. Haemon states that “The entire city is grieving over [Antigone]” and wonders, “Hasn’t she earned glory bright as gold?” Creon’s certainty is shaken by this news but he remains unmoved. He tells Haemon, “A city belongs to its master. Isn’t that the rule?”
Only after his discussion with Tiresias does Creon begins to understand the implications of his ruling over the natural world: “Giving in would be terrible. But standing firm invites disaster!” After soliciting the chorus’ advice, Creon decides to overturn his condemnations – but by then it is too late.
The “alliance of spears” ultimately assumes new meaning for Creon. What was once a metaphor for society’s allegiance to its ruler has evolved into recognition that the alliance can only be controlled as far as general social consensus allows. In this sense the ‘alliance’ is an entity unto itself; it possesses strength that even a tyrant must respect in the end. When Creon imposed restrictions on natural law it was he who broke from the alliance, whereas Antigone had the fortitude to act upon the latent social consensus that Creon had gone too far.
The Power of Pride in Oedipus Rex and Antigone
What happens when pride takes control of a human? In the plays Oedipus Rex and Antigone, Sophocles paints a dismal picture of what happens, where pride is depicted as both an obstruction to sight and an obstruction to hearing. According to Sophocles, the pride of Antigone, Creon, and Oedipus blinds them from seeing their own stubborn determination and deafens them from hearing the wise counsel of their advisors. These characters’ pride produces tragic consequences not only for the arrogant characters themselves, but also for those closest to them. Sophocles utilizes the prideful determination of Antigone, Creon, and Oedipus to illustrate how disregarding wise counsel leads to fatal errors in judgement.
First, Antigone’s pride takes the form of a stubborn desire to act on her own volition. In the opening act of the play, Antigone, in her arrogant persistence to get her way, does not listen to the counsel of her sister. This initiates a chain of events that leads to her demise. Insightfully recognizing Antigone’s fiery determination, her sister declares “You have a hot mind over chilly things” (Ant. 88) and warns her against the dangers of acting against their powerful uncle Creon, who has commanded that no one can bury Polyneices, Antigone’s brother. However, Antigone is resolved to bury her brother, despite her sister’s warnings about the risk of such reckless actions. Antigone cannot let the matter rest, for in her eyes, she must protect the honor of Polyneices and her own pride by burying her brother. Though Ismene speaks sensibly, Antigone’s arrogant determination to bury Polyneices deafens her from hearing the wisdom of Ismene. Therefore, she wrongfully attributes Ismene’s warning to mere fearful excuses. Ismene, seeing the futility of her counsel, relents, leaving Antigone with a warning: “go, since you want to. But know this: you go senseless indeed” (Ant. 98-99). Through her dogged determination to have her own way, Antigone cannot see the folly of her actions and the consequences for defying Creon. Though some may argue that Antigone was right to bury her brother, there is no doubt that Antigone would benefit from proceeding in a more honorable fashion rather than blatantly disobeying Creon’s decrees. Conceivably, it was more of Antigone’s misplaced stubborn pride, as opposed to true honor, in action when she buries her brother a second time, even though she fulfilled the burial rituals when she buried her brother the first time. As expected, Creon does invoke a fatal punishment on Antigone. If she had listened to Ismene’s warnings against foolishly acting instead of blatantly acting against Creon’s decree, perhaps Antigone’s story would not have such a tragic end. Had she allowed Ismene’s warnings to pierce her stubborn pride, her errors in judgement could have been rectified by allowing Ismene to show her that it was not honor at work in her actions, but rather a prideful, stubborn attitude.
Moreover, though Creon was the one to invoke punishment on Antigone, he also ensured his own demise in his condescending attitude towards counsel. Unlike Antigone’s pride, his pride takes the form of sexism, which allows him to write off his son Haemon’s counsel as foolish love for a woman. In a testament to his own maturity and love for his father’s well being, Haemon reveals to Creon that he has been keeping “watch on all men’s doing where it touches you,” (Ant. 687-689). He questions his father’s course of punishment for Antigone out of this concern, as he discovers that “the whole town is grieving for this girl, unjustly doomed” (Ant. 693-694). Furthermore, he recommends that his father slackens his firm stance against Antigone, for, as Haemon states, “a man, though wise, should never be ashamed of learning more, and must not be too rigid” (Ant. 710-711). Even the chorus leader notes the wisdom of Haemon’s words, agreeing that Creon would be prudent to heed his son (Ant. 724-725). Unfortunately, all the sensibility of Haemon’s words is lost on Creon, who cannot look past his own prideful sexism. Rather than regarding Haemon’s words, which are so undoubtedly rational to the chorus leader and even the city as a whole, he excuses Haemon’s sentiments as simply his feeling towards Antigone doing the talking. Antigone threatens Creon’s masculine pride, and he is fixated on the fact that a woman had the audacity to disobey him. He pours out this anger, which has misogynistic undertones, on Haemon, calling him “weaker than a woman” (Ant. 746) and a “woman’s slave” (Ant. 756). Creon’s chauvinistic pride shows itself in the way he distributes punishment. He does not punish a male guard, who is part of a group incriminated for failing twice to watch over the body of Polyneices. However, when a female dares to cross his path, he penalizes her with the ultimate form of punishment: death. Though Antigone’s crime is arguably more deliberate, the massive difference in Creon’s administration of justice to those who have failed him points towards his sexist attitude. Creon’s dismissal of Haemon’s counsel ultimately leads to the death of Haemon and Creon’s wife, Eurydice. Had Creon listened to the wise counsel of Haemon, he would not have experienced the tragedy of both his wife and his son dying. For if Creon had looked past his misogynistic reasoning for ignoring Haemon’s words he could avoid his errors in judgement in punishing Antigone.
Similar to Antigone and Creon, Oedipus’ resolute determination to act as he pleases keeps him from hearing the warnings of his counselors. Oedipus’ pride manifests itself in his belief that he is invincible against the fate set before him by the gods. As Oedipus searches to find the murderer of Laius, he inches closer and closer to the tragic truth that he is, in fact, Laius’ murderer. When he questions the wise Teiresias, the prophet shrewdly advises Oedipus to not seek the truth, for it will only bring pain. He says, “Let me go home. It will be easiest for us both to bear our several destinies to the end if you will follow my advice” (OT. 320-322). However, Oedipus refuses to let him go, saying “you’d rob us of this your gift of prophecy?” (OT. 323). Furthermore, Teiresias is not the only one to warn Oedipus that he is headed down a dark and dangerous path. Oedipus’ prideful tenacity reveals itself more so as Jocasta offers her counsel, which Oedipus, unsurprisingly, does not heed. Jocasta recognizes that this search will only lead to more suffering, and she entreats Oedipus, “do not hunt this out” (OT. 1060). Oedipus brushes her off, insisting that he must find the truth, despite that fact that she continues to ask him to end this search. Jocasta proclaims that “it is because I wish you well that I give you this counsel- and it’s the best counsel” (OT. 1066). However, Oedipus grows frustrated with Jocasta, saying her counsel “vexes” him, and he continues in his pursuit of the truth (OT. 1067).
Oedipus’ prideful tenacity stems from the evidence that Oedipus believes, at least on a subconscious level, that he is greater than the gods. For before he was king of Thebes, Oedipus left who he thought were his parents, King Polybus and Queen Merope, so as to escape the prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. It’s as if he believed that he could, by his own power, change the path the gods had set before him. Throughout his search for Laius’ murderer, he consistently ignores the warnings of Teiresias and Jocasta, denying that he could be the murderer because he, in all his strength, obviously escaped the fate of the gods. This prideful belief in his own sovereignty over fate leads to his errors in judgement about the identity of Laius’ murderer. However, Teiresias and Jocasta’s warnings come true, and Oedipus realizes he is, unfortunately, the murderer of Laius. When he finds this, Oedipus cries in despair and remorse, “madness and stabbing pain and memory of my evils!”(OT. 1316). His wise counselors saw through his prideful belief in his own power against fate, and foresaw where his investigation would undoubtedly lead. Had he listened to the wisdom of his counsel, perhaps he would have continued to live in the mindless bliss that he had at the beginning of his reign and marriage to Jocasta.
Despite the fact that Antigone, Creon, and Oedipus’ pride takes different forms, they all make errors in judgment. As Sophocles implies, these errors could be rectified by heeding the counsel of their less hot-headed counterparts. Their counselors had the ability to see through the arrogant determination and self-blindness which displays itself in Antigone through stubbornness, Creon through sexism, and Oedipus through belief in his strength against fate, and can thus offer valuable guidance from a less emotionally charged place. Sophocles offers wisdom on this through the voice of Haemon, saying, “Have you not seen the trees beside storm torrents – The ones that bend preserve their limbs and leaves, while the resistant perish root and branch?” (Ant. 712-714). Through this, Sophocles suggests that those who utilize the wisdom of others and allow themselves to compromise and change based on wise counsel will survive, while those who remain fixated on their resolute desire to do things their own way will perish. Thus, Antigone, Creon, and Oedipus’ prideful determination blinds and deafens them from acknowledging their own limits in their ability to make crucial decisions.
Book Review: Antigone written by Sophocles
Antigone written by Sophocles, speaks about the power struggle between Antigone and her Uncle Creon who is the King of Thebes. Both characters seemed to have their own beliefs in how Antigone’s brother Polyneices should be buried. With both Creon and Antigone being strong-willed individuals, they refrain from changing their morals for anyone. As the play progresses to the end, it can be shown that both characters play part as the tragic hero. They can both be seen as characters that made judgmental errors leading to their downfall. However, there seemed to be one character that played the real tragic hero of the story. With Creon’s authority, stubbornness, nobility and flaws, he is the real tragic hero in the play.
Creon is known as the King in the play Antigone. An example of Creon’s antagonist actions is quoted: “…Polyneices, I say, is to have no burial: no man is to touch him or say the least prayer for him; he shall lie on the plain, unburied; and the birds and the scavenging dogs can do with him whatever they like” (Sophocles 1. 43-46). Though he is perceived negatively, he is still perceived as superior to Thebans. Antigone was known in the society as the princess; but, was not known as a grand person. Creon is very proud of his status in society and is prideful of his city and his decisions. Creon said proudly, “You forget yourself! You are speaking to your King!” (Sophocles 5. 66) Creon shows his level of his status in this quote. Antigone is widely known for being the princess of the former king and disobeying Creon’s intentions of giving her brother an improper burial.
Creon and Antigone are similar in nobility. Creon was the brother of Oedipus. Quoted, “But now, at last, is our new King is coming: Creon of Thebes, Menoikeus” son.” (Sophocles 1. 1-2) This quote shows that Creon was raised in a noble family and had a higher status compared to other Thebans. Antigone was also born into nobility, as she was the daughter of Oedipus, but Creon was still in a higher position than she was. As addressing his servants, “Unfortunately, as you know, his two sons, the princes Eteocles and Polynices have killed each other in battle; and I, as the next in blood, have succeeded to the full power of the throne” (Sophocles 1. 15-19). This shows Creon’s notability. Creon’s nobility made him a very greedy person but his character fits a part of the definition of a tragic hero.
One of the many characteristics that can thoroughly describe Creon is prideful. Throughout the tragedy, Creon reveals he has a flaw: Self-pride. Antigone is considered to have the tragic flaw of too much ambition. : “…Is less of importance; but if I had left my brother lying in death unburied, I should have suffered. Now I do not” (Sophocles 2. 79-81). In this quote, she is shown to have the ambition to disobey Creon. On the flipside, characters have the ability to obtain the ambition trait; whereas self-pride is a trait unique to certain individuals. Creon’s pride put him in a bad situation and caused him to pay for his own consequences, but a tragic can learn from their own mistakes. Creon learned from his actions. It is not clear if Antigone learned from hers. This quote from Creon helps support this.: “Good. That is the way to behave: subordinate¬- Everything else, my son, to your father’s will” (Sophocles 3. 13-14). Creon’s flaw of self-pride explains why he is the tragic hero of the Greek tragedy, not Antigone.
Why would readers or viewers of this play assume that Antigone is the tragic hero of Antigone? When readers start reading the Greek Tragedy, you assume that Antigone is the main character because the play is named after her, therefore making it reasonable why people assume that she is also the tragic hero.to her family and to the gods, she might be a hero but she is not the tragic hero. “I should have praise and honor for what I have done. All these men here would praise me- Were their lips not frozen shut with fear of you” (Sophocles 2. 113-115). This quote explains Antigone belief that she is a hero. Readers, after reading the play, think that Antigone was such a great character, and she should be deemed. The Tragic Hero. Lastly, readers often feel that since Antigone is the protagonist, then she is automatically the tragic hero. This quote shows that she is the protagonist: “Creon is not strong enough to stand in my way” (Sophocles Prologue. 36). This quote definitely shows that she is a protagonist, but there is a difference between the protagonist and tragic hero.
A tragic hero is said to have the following: superiority, near to perfection, a tragic flaw, a noble birth, or he discovers that the person’s downfall is a result of their own actions. As stated in previous sections of this argument, Creon fits the mold of a tragic hero more than Antigone. For instance, did most Thebans look more up to King Creon or Antigone? This quotation answers the question.: “This is my command, and you can see the wisdom behind it. As long as I am King, no traitor is going to be honored with the loyal man” (Sophocles 1. 47-49). This shows Creon’s power. Antigone at one time may have been superior, but when her father, Oedipus was forced to exile all of that went away. Creon’s proves that he is the tragic hero by his nobility. Who is nobler: the current king, or the daughter of the former king? Creon’s family background defeats Antigone’s in nobility. As shown in other parts of the argument, the self-pride is more unique and it is less common to characters. Whereas Antigone’s flaw, excess ambition is more likely to be given to main characters in a story in an attempt to make the character look more heroic. Sophocles made Creon the tragic hero of this play because he wanted to illustrate that not all heroes have to be necessarily pleasant. At end of the story Creon says, “…I have been rash and foolish. I have killed my son and my wife” (Sophocles Exodus. 142-143). This illustrates Creon’s realization to his decisions. He sees that his decisions were costly to the people he cared most about. Based off the tone of his voice, he seemed to be regretful in what he has done since he has inflicted pain upon himself.
Creon and Antigone were both vital characters of the play. These two characters make the play relevant. Creon’s stubbornness to provide an improper burial for Polyneices due to his own beliefs led to his downfall. His decisions and choices had affected everyone around him which in-turn affects him. Antigone beliefs to give Polyneices a proper burial to please the Gods led to her downfall. Due to her beliefs, she leaves the play as a character who committed suicide. Creon, being alive, suffers through the guilt and pain he acquired through the decisions he made. He will live with the pain and guilt that he caused upon himself with is a very hard thing to do. With Creon’s status in society, his flaws and
characteristics, he appeared to be more of a tragic hero in comparison to Antigone.
The story of true family love: Antigone
Even though it was forbidden, Antigone decided to defy the state’s law and give her brother a burial. Antigone was right to defy King Creon because she had the right to bury her brother and her brother deserved a respectful burial so they could honor their family. Every person deserves a respectful burial. Even though Antigone was committing a crime according to the laws set by state, according to her she was right because she was just following the will of the gods.
Many people claim that they would do anything for their family, but Antigone showed that she truly feels the need to honor her family. She broke the law to bury her brother. Antigone takes her sister into a room and tells her “What hath not Creon destined our brother the one to buried to shame” (Sophocles,11). Antigone is telling Ismene about the death of their brothers. Antigone say’s to Ismene “I will do my part and thine if thou will not to a brother. False to him will never be found”.(Sophocles,13) Antigone is saying that she is going to Bury Polyneices even if it is illegal he is our brother so that’s what we have to do. Antigone wasn’t going to die, if she was going to die she would die with honor. Antigone say’s “But I will bury Polyneices. I will do what I must do and I will die an honorable death” (Sophocles, 13). Antigone is having an argument with her sister, Antigone is basically telling Ismene you don’t have to come with me I’m still going to bury him. In response Ismene say’s” I do them no dishonor, but to defy the state I have no strength for that”. (Sophocles,14)
Ismene is saying that she doesn’t want to bury her brother because it’s illegal and doesn’t want to deal with the consequences if she were to do that. Some people might disagree that Antigone buried her brother because she needed to honor his death and some instead might argue that she did it for herself. Antigone says selfishly to Ismene “Creon cannot keep me from the one I love”.( Sophocles, 13 )
It sounds like Antigone is being selfish and saying that she sounds she will break the law for herself and that she was burying her brother so she could be at peace. However Antigone clearly cares about her family because she was willing to break the law to honor Polyneices. Antigone tells Ismene Angrily “He is our brother.Perhaps you wish he was not. I will never forsake him”.( Sophocles, 12)Antigone is saying that Polyneices is their brother so they need to bury him even if it is illegal.Antigone was right to bury her brother even if king Creon made it illegal because it was the right thing to do.
Many say that they live for their family and that they would die to protect them or do anything for them but none more than Antigone. She proved that she cared about her brother,because she broke the law to defend and bury him with honor. If someone’s brothers were killed and one had a funeral but the other didn’t, wouldn’t they fight to make sure he had a funeral, that’s what Antigone did.
An Analysis of Power, Authority and Truth in Antigone, a Play by Sophocles
Antigone: an analysis on Power, Authority and Truth
In Sophocles’ play Antigone, Kreon, the warrior King may overrule Antigone, a mere woman’s, struggle for political power, but can he match Antigone’s resistance in a fight for political authority? Political power in a state rises from the presence of a force that exerts dominance. The public’s need for self-preservation allows for obedience to the one who holds that power in the fear of the consequences of disobedience. Political authority however, results from a belief of the moral correctness of a situation. Laws are obeyed not because there is no alternative but because it is morally just. In order to make a judgement of both Kreon’s decrees and Antigone’s rebelliousness, we must understand how both characters draw their justifications from each definition.
Kreon, a General during the First Peloponnesian War, is the epitome of power. When he is handed the throne and heralded as the King of Thebes however, he stumbles because political power and military power are completely different games. Kings may not make good warriors and warriors may not make good kings because one is not the prerequisite of the other. Kreon may be a king but he thinks like a soldier. In an army, obedience is praised and questioning of an order is non-existent. Soldiers obey without a question orders from their General and for that they are valued. In battle, generals must make decisions that serve the greater good for the general populous: sacrificing lives to protect the state and its people. The soldiers are considered as a unit and there is little room for individual voices and even less room for dissent and such is the way Kreon wants to rule Thebes. To establish his power, he wants to use Antigone’s death as a harbinger to others who might break his law.
By the social construct of the times, Kreon is as powerful as one could be shy of being a God. But where does his power come from? Political power is an empty thing when you have no one to exert it over. This means that Kreon’s power comes from the people: he only has as much power as the people are willing to give him.
Political power, as we’ve established is blunt and forceful. Obedience of the people is established through fear of punishment. Kreon rules by inducing fear because that’s the only way he knows how. His subjects obey him out of fear of the consequences of disobedience and not because what he says is always just. This festers an environment where one would be willing to abandon their moral compass to save their own skin. The sentry would turn Antigone in to save his own skin rather than follow what he believes is right if it meant risking his life. The chorus also echoes the sentiment that to risk death because of what you believe is foolish.
But while Thebes is not a democracy like Athens, a king needs the support of his people. Kreon’s son, Haimon appeals to Kreon on the basis of power – he suggests that public opinion of Antigone’s ruling is against Kreon and alienating the people will only lead to his own demise. Haimon tries to convince his father to find a balance by letting go of some political power and showing some political authority. The trees that bend in the face of the wind, Haimon explains, are those that survive the storm. Haimon who believes wisdom supreme and that “second [opinions] are valuable” urges his father to listen to others. For, he argues “whenever a man supposes that he alone has intelligence or expression or feelings,/ he exposes himself and shows his emptiness.”
Kreon, uncomprehending his son’s wisdom, believes that Haimon is trying to undermine his power as King. His blindness to see his own faults until it is too late leads to his eventual undoing.
Without the love or respect of his people, Kreon holds little to no political authority. As defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, authority is the “power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior”. In this way, political authority is much more powerful than political power in gathering support. One could argue that a King could use his position to carry out laws that would influence his people’s behaviour. But what about thoughts and opinions? That begs the question; to what extent is Kreon’s power limited? In other words, where does his authority come from and how far can it go?
Kreon believes the state is supreme and that it is his duty to be a tough ruler to show his loyalty to Thebes. He summons the people to bless him as they did the king before him and announces to the public that “the state will thrive through [his principles]”. Therefore, since he represents Thebes as its king, his will is sovereign. He explains the decree against burying Polyneices to the elders, and they agree that “law and usage, as I see it,/ are totally at your disposal/ to apply both to the dead and to us survivors” . It is important to note that although they agree with his decree, they are hesitant to enforce it, telling Kreon to let the younger guards do the “dirty work”.
Ismene also warns Antigone that the burial is against the king’s law but Antigone reasons that the Divine Laws of the Gods hold more authority than a mere mortal King’s. It is not so much important as what she believes in, but the fact that she rejects the authority of Kreon in favour of her own belief. This act of defiance shows that Antigone is not afraid of Kreon’s so called political power as King and stands on her own authority to challenge Kreon’s views. She questions “What divine and just law [has she] evaded?” proclaiming that Kreon’s laws are not laws made in heaven and therefore she does not have to obey them if she believes they are unjust. Her willingness to die to do her duty to Polyneices is a testament to her belief and symbolic of her authority. She believes to her death that doing what is right to her and the right use of her individual power.
It is no surprise that Kreon sees Antigone as a threat to his political authority. He claims that “[he is] no man-/she is a man, she’s the king/if she gets away with this”. This is a fascinating reversal of power that may seem paradoxical at first: to claim that Antigone is more of a threat than a man would be. As a woman living in Thebes at time, Antigone’s social status is no higher than a slave’s. Even Ismene pleads for her sister to be sensible for “[they] are women, born unfit to battle man;/and [they] are subjects, while Kreon is King”. But it is in her worthlessness that the dilemma arises. If he gives in to her, he will be shamed. First, as she is his niece, doing so would seem like an act of favoritism. Secondly, she is a mere woman and yielding to her would make him seem weak.
There is something undeniably fresh about Antigone’s tragedy. As with many cases in Ancient Greek tragedies, the characters blame the prophecies for their misfortune and use it to excuse their actions. Antigone however, admits to her actions and therefore sets her own life in stone, quite literally. Although the chorus and many others call her foolish for asking for her own death, it is the only true brave act in the entire play and is also the only true example of a moment of political authority.
Antigone’s resistance to Kreon’s authority is an act of political heroism. Antigone says no to all she finds offensive and in this sense she is more powerful than the ruler beholden to his throne. Her staunch belief in what she believes is right proves to be more powerful than a ruler that depends on his throne to make his arguments. Antigone has more power of the mind, that is to say, she thinks for herself and therefore says her mind with more certainty and more authority. Despite all his titles of power, Kreon finds himself helpless, unable to act on his own. To have authority you must believe in what you are saying and it’s not hard to see whose resolve lasted the test of time.
Although Kreon is inexperienced as king, what’s important to remember is that he is not a villain. In fact, Kreon values peace, stability and unity and he also knows that a fair ruler should rule with judgement from others.
But most things are much easier said than done. Kreon has and always will put the state first, believing that “the state is safety. / [and when] she is steady, then we can steer./[and then] we can love . Kreon ill-thinks that he will lose his supporters and leadership and bring chaos if he gives in to the people. But those of us with the advantage of hindsight and greater knowledge knows that to give citizens of the state the freedom to express individual thoughts, ideas and opinions and have them heard to the best of the state’s ability is imperative to the stability and success in its unity. The fatal error in Kreon’s judgement is that he doesn’t see that the only way to hold political power over the people is to root it in political authority.
It may not come as a surprise that Plato rejected Kreon, a military man, for the power of the throne. Plato believed that only those who have higher knowledge should rule over others. As portrayed in his infamous cave-analogy, it is the philosopher that goes to seek the truth and finds it. Thus, Plato’s ideal king is a philosopher king. He creates Kreon’s character using traits of a Machiavellian: one who approaches politics as an art of power. As Machiavelli once said ‘it is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both’ and believed that ‘politics have no relation to morals’. The chief architect of his own demise, Kreon sacrifices morals to achieve power through a reign of fear. Plato paints Kreon in a negative light as an example of abuse of power because he believes that politics should be an art of justice.
The infuriating notion of the concept of justice is that there is no right or wrong. Kreon is not trying to become a dictator nor is Antigone trying to overthrow the State. Each is only doing what they think are right. The underpinning conflict between Antigone and Kreon lies in their opposing beliefs on how one should rule. Had Kreon slackened the reins on his hold of political power or had Antigone showed political authority in a different manner, their objectives might have reached a compromise. Antigone, stubborn until the end, literally hangs for her beliefs and Kreon, scared of losing his political power and authority if he gives in, ends up losing everything. In the play’s final verdict, it seems as if Kreon’s political power does manage to trump Antigone’s vie for political authority. But what we have left to ponder over is if Kreon came out on top then why is he left a broken man? If his laws are supreme then why is he the one left with bruises?
The role of Antigone
Creon requested that Eteocles, who passed on protecting the town is to be covered with full respects , while the figure of Polynices, the intruder is left to decay along these lines, Creon announced that any individual who set out to endeavor covering Polynices will be stoned to death.
Antigone brings Isemen outside the royal residence entryways , around evening time , for a mystery meeting as Antigone needs to cover Polynices. Ismene declines to defy the King’s requests thus , Antigone storms off to cover Polynices alone. It is conveyed to the King’s consideration that somebody has endeavored to offer a custom entombment to Polynices and requests that whoever is discovered liable is brought before him for discipline. In the wake of finding that Antigone, his niece , has opposed his request, Creon is insulted. Antigone expresses that his request is illegal of the Gods and because of this contention , Creon requests that Antigone and her sister are condemned to death. Haemon, Creons child who was towed Antigone requests that his dad rethink the discipline of their activities in this way, a contention developed in regards to the child’s demand and blames Haemon for unmanly shortcoming in agreeing with a lady. Haemon storms out in outrage expressing that he is never to return back. Creon revises his declaration on this sisters and enables Ismene to live and Antigone to be fixed in a tomb to pass on of starvation.
The visually impaired prophet Tiresias cautions Creon that the God’s dislike not covering Polynices and that the lord will be rebuffed by the passing of his own child. Before long, Creon rethinks his past choice and enables an entombment to be held for Polynices and furthermore liberates Antigone. Lamentably, Creon’s difference in heart comes far past the point of no return as Antigone hangs herself and Haemon slaughters himself out of distress and anguish. After Eurydice hears the news of her child Haemon executing himself, she too murders herself revealing Creon. Creon acknowledges the obligation of his silly choices and petitions God for a snappy demise to never again live with blame and distress. The play closes with a notice that pride will be rebuffed by the blows of destiny.
Themes alluding to the plots of Antigone and Oedipus at Colonus both spin around entombments, and the convictions about internment are critical in Oedipus the King also because of the considerable regard towards their God’s. Polynices is kept over the ground after his passing, denied a grave by the King himself and his decaying body outrages the divine beings, his relatives, and old conventions. Antigone is buried alive, to the ghastliness of everybody who watches. Toward the finish of Oedipus the King, Oedipus can’t stay in Thebes or be covered inside its domain, since his exceptionally individual is dirtied and hostile to seeing divine beings and men. By and by, his decision, in Oedipus at Colonus, to be covered at Colonus presents an extraordinary and mysterious blessing on all of Athens, promising that country triumph over future assailants.
In Ancient Greece, backstabbers and individuals who kill their own particular relatives couldn’t be covered inside their city’s domain, yet their relatives still had a commitment to cover them. As one of the essential, inevitable obligations that individuals owe their relatives, entombments speak to the commitments that originate from connection, and in addition the contentions that can emerge between one’s obligation to family and to the city-state.Relatively every character who kicks the bucket in the three Theban plays does as such at his or her own hand (or claim will, just like the case in Oedipus at Colonus ) and this again demonstrates the themes in the methodology of the play. Jocasta hangs herself in Oedipus the King and Antigone hangs herself in Antigone. Eurydice and Haemon cut themselves toward the finish of Antigone because of silly choices made by the King . Oedipus delivers loathsome brutality on himself toward the finish of his first play, and energetically goes to his own puzzling passing toward the finish of his second. Polynices and Eteocles pass on in fight with each other, and it could be contended that Polyneices’ demise in any event is self-incurred in that he has heard his dad’s revile and realizes that his motivation is damned. Interbreeding propels or in a roundabout way achieves the majority of the passings in these plays.
All things considered, the image in the play alludes to Antigone’s Entombment as Creon sentences Antigone to a shocking destiny . He means on leaving his niece, Antigone detained in a tomb with simply enough sustenance that neither he nor the subjects of Thebes will have blood staring them in the face when she in the long run bites the dust. Her detainment in a tomb symbolizes the way that her loyalties and emotions lie with the dead—her siblings and her dad—instead of with the living, for example, Haemon or Ismene. In any case, her detainment is likewise an image of Creon’s absence of judgment and his attacks to the divine beings and furthermore his nonsensical reasoning of not being benevolent nor chivalrous. Tiresias calls attention to that Creon submits a loathsome sin by hotel a living individual inside a grave, as he keeps a decaying body in light. Creon’s activities against Antigone and against Polyneices’ body demonstrate him endeavoring to modify the request of nature, resisting the divine beings by attesting his own control over their domains and in the end , the rulers passing alongside his child’s demise. Every scene was bound with subtleties of the message that the author wished to pass on; political topics were common,particularly in regards to the establishments of majority rule government that were being laid, and additionally subjects of destiny respecting the divine beings. Sophocies’ Antigone is no special case.
The contentions inside the content of Antigone address numerous bigger good issues, incorporating ladies’ position in society,reverence for the God’s , devotion to the state and to the family, and the risks of total power and pride.