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Antigone vs. Creon
According to Aristotle, "tragedy is a representation of an action, which is serious, complete in itself, and of a certain length, it is expressed in speech made beautiful in different ways in different parts of the play; it is acted, not narrated; and by exciting pity and fear it gives a healthy relief to such emotion" (Lucas 25). This definition categorizes Sophocles' Antigone as a model tragedy. Aristotle also states that " a tragedy must include pain and sorrow, and a tragedy goes from happiness to misery" (Leech 33). The main idea throughout the play is entrenched in the conflict between Antigone and Creon, the two protagonists, on the basis of morale and justice. Antigone's actions are out of eros, or love and Creon's actions are based on state laws and hubris, or pride. In Sophocles' Antigone, tragedy predominates the drama from the beginning of the story when Polynices and Eteocles, two brothers, fight in a battle for the throne of Thebes. Although the city of Thebes has won the battle, the two brothers have killed one another and Thebes has no king. The brothers uncle, Creon, assumes position of king of Thebes. Under his first decree Creon declares that no man will be allowed to bury Polynices since he brought an outside army from Argos to battle against Eteocles in Thebes. Antigone, Polynices and Eteocles's sister, ignores Creon's decree and gives Polynices a proper burial to honor the gods in spite of Creon's decree.
Now the battle between Antigone and Creon begins, and they are the
focal point of the drama. Antigone and Creon have totally opposite views of justice. Creon feels that justice is given in regards to the state whereas, Antigone goes against the ideas of Creon and sets with the laws of the gods.
She appeals to the "justice that dwells with the gods below" (Sophocles 135), and she is ready for her fate, which is death. Antigone is unreasonable and unsensible, and she insist that sometimes justice is more important than the laws set by man. Since she defines her own laws, she must suffer the consequences for trying to disobey the laws of the state. Antigone makes no effort to conceal her deed and challenges Creon's right to make laws that are in conflict with the will of the gods. Creon is an example of an authority figure who is too rigid an inflexible to admit his mistakes and errors in judgment until it is too late. Eventhough Creon sets the laws of the state higher than the laws of the gods by denying Polynices a decent burial, Antigone knows that she must please the gods by burying Polynices. Antigone and Creon not only struggle on the basis of laws but also on family matters. Antigone not only lost her two brothers, but she will lose her respect for her family and the gods if she does not bury Polynices. Creon does not let his relation with Antigone as her uncle affect his dealings with Antigone in any way. He swears to punish her even if she is a "sister's child or closer in blood"( Sophocles 784). His job now is to protect and serve the people of Thebes in any way he possibly can, but most of all he must uphold the laws of the state. If he does not punish Antigone, he will look as though he is a weak ruler. Since Creon is related to Antigone, he must carry out the punishment of Antigone so the Thebians will see him as a strong and powerful king.
Antigone goes alone to bury Polynices because Ismene, her sister, will not disobey Creon's law. Ismene says "I do them no dishonor, but to defy the city, I have no strength for that" (Sophocles 771). Ismene pleads with Antigone to change her mind because Ismene has no other immediate family besides Antigone. Ismene asks "how can I live alone, without her?" (Sophocles 789). The disagreement between Antigone and Ismene is between their views of "idealism and realism" (Webster 88). Ismene tries to persuade Antigone to change her mind and to remember "that we are women we're not born to contend with men" and "we must submit"( Sophocles 61). Antigone's strong will ignores Ismene's pleas for her to
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Operas, Mythological kings, Antigone, Civil disobedience, Haemon, Polynices, Ismene, Creon, Sophocles, Antigona, Antigonae, Eteocles
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