Creon As The Overpowering Individual In “Antigone”
Many people balance the individual, community, and divine differently according to their values. In the tragedy Antigone by Sophocles, Creon is the King of Thebes. Creon balances individualism his own way based on his own morals instead of what others may consider as right or wrong. Individuals that favor community are often influenced to do things a certain way based on what the people around them think is right, which Creon ignores. The divine is balanced when people conform to a particular religion. Religions allow for people to follow the laws of a higher being which plays a role in their decision making. Sophocles depicts Creon as favoring the individual at first, but then Creon’s balance changes for the better where he is now depicted as valuing the gods’ laws instead of his own selfish morals when ruling the city of Thebes.
Creon’s individualistic attitude demonstrates how he is a selfish ruler. At the start of the play, it was clear that the Thebans must obey Creon’s rules, or else there would be a punishment such as the death penalty. Creon’s rules can be viewed differently by different people. In Plato’s Hierarchy of Being, the concept of the truth is at the top of the hierarchy. The truth is good, and the gods are all knowing of the good and the beautiful. The truth can be portrayed in different ways. In Creon’s case, he values justice which is at the top of his own hierarchy. He believes that his laws are just and morally right, although they are not viewed that way by his community. The rules of Creon contest the gods’ laws of the truth. One of Creon’s selfish rules is that if someone is a traitor to the city, his or her body is not allowed to be buried. A corpse that is left unburied goes against one of the laws of the gods. Creon prohibits the Thebans from burying Polyneices body after he names him a traitor, and what Creon says must be followed by everyone. This rule may not come across as selfish because it is just that a traitor to a city should be punished, and should not be given the respect of a proper burial. However, Polyneices is Creon’s nephew. Creon is driven mainly by power and chooses to not value his family or opinions of others. He is shown throughout the play constantly choosing to rule selfishly rather than having relationships with any family member. Creon believes that only his rules are the best for the community, and does not listen to anyone else’s ideas or perspective. Haemon tries to show and convince Creon that he is being too selfish, but Creon does not listen to the opinion of his own son. This depicts how he rules egotistically and values the power he has over his own family and community. However, he does not rule this way throughout the play since he goes through an important conversion that changes his mentality.
Although individualism dominated Creon’s mindset throughout a majority of the play, he experienced an important conversion from the blind prophet Teiresias that would change his life and selfish ways of ruling. Teiresias goes to speak to Creon on behalf of the gods. Teiresias mostly speaks in a way to intimidate Creon and prove to him that his actions are wrong. Teiresias says to Creon, “Mark that now, once more, you are standing on fate’s fine edge”. These words were said to make Creon worried of what will come in the future since what he has been doing is unacceptable and has upset the gods. His fate is determined by angry gods, and he becomes disturbed by this message. Teiresias then states, “Therefore the avenging destroyers lie in wait for you, the Furies of Hades and of the gods…”. Creon’s ignorance in burying Antigone alive and leaving Polyneices’ unburied corpse to rot angered the gods. Creon learns that his actions will have horrible consequences, such as a death in his household. Creon realizes that he has to try to fix his mistakes before he is too late. During this particular realization, he recognizes that he should not proceed to go against the gods’ laws and starts to favor divinity.
At the end of the play, Creon balances the individual, community and divine differently. He sees the divine in a new light, and decides to listen to the gods and fix what he has done so that he can have everlasting happiness. He decides to go free Antigone from her tomb because he has to undo his wrongful actions to gain forgiveness from the gods and prevent his fate. Once he arrives at her tomb, he sees that she has hung herself. She knows that she has to die, so she wants to die from her own self and not from Creon’s actions. Haemon, learning about Antigone’s death and driven by his love for her, decides to end his life. Eurydice, Creon’s wife, hears about the two deaths, and decides to end her life as well. She cursed Creon’s name in the process, as he is the main cause of the deaths of his family members. These losses upset Creon after he reflects and notices that the deaths are completely his fault. He is always caught up in himself, and makes certain rules that lead to his unhappiness. The divine now dominates Creon’s balance because if he upsets the gods again, he recognizes that more terrible things will happen.
Sophocles wants to show Creon’s balance and conversion from the individual to the divine in a certain way that causes readers to think about the tragedy. The play can be read differently by the audience, which means that this tragedy is thought-provoking. While reading, some might note that Creon’s laws are just, while others will view his rules as selfish. The reasoning that Creon is selfish can prove that he is responsible for the horrible deaths that happened to his family. Creon ruled the city poorly, and he did not trust the warning signs or the prophet of the gods soon enough. He ultimately has himself to blame for his new loneliness since he did not convert to the divine sooner.
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