Theater played a large role in ancient Greek society. The citizens were meant to learn from the mistakes made in tragedies. They should have learned what not to be like as a citizen or human. In the classic tragedy Antigone, the third and final play in Sophocles+s Oedipus Cycle, there are two main characters, Antigone and Creon.
They are both strong willed and stubborn people. By their resistance to change, they both seal each others fate. Antigone is passionate… Creon is full of rage. They are both so similar that they can not see eye to eye. Although they may seem quite different, Creon and Antigone share many similarities throughout the play. Antigone and Creon are both very independent people.
Antigone is willing to act on her own for something she believes in. In the first scene Antigone pleas with her sister, Ismene, to help her. When Ismene refuses she is furious, but is resolved to continue with her plan, in defiance of Creon+s decree. |Go away, Ismene: I shall be hating you soon, and the dead will too, For your words are hateful. Leave me to my foolish plan: I am not afraid of the danger; if it means death, It will not be the worst of deaths – death without honor. X (189) Even facing the penalty of death, she risks her life for what she believes.
By her self, she manages to sneak past the guards watching over the corpse of Polyneices, and gives him a crude but proper burial. Creon is also very independently minded, and he refuses to accept the opinions of anyone but himself. When his son Haimon confronts him, he refuses to listen, claiming that Haimon is a "girl struck fool, (216) ' and that he has been corrupted by Antigone. Even when faced with Teresias+s prophecy, he refuses to believe the truth. He claims that Tortuous has been bribed, and that he |sold out! X (227) He is finally forced to listen when Choragus reminds him of Teresias+s perfect record. Eventually he is persuaded to reverse his decision, persuaded that it is the will of the gods, he gives Polyneices a proper burial, and is on his way to free Antigone, but it is too late.
Creon and Antigone and they are both very strong in their views. Creon is devoted to his laws, while Antigone is loyal to her beliefs. Creon refuses to give in and alter his law. He labels those who dare act against him as traitors, and his justice is quick and cruel. |This girl is guilty of a double insolence, Breaking the given laws and boasting of it. Who is the man here, She or I, if this crime goes unpunished? Sister+s child, or more than sister+s child, Or closer yet in blood – she and her sister Win bitter death for this! X (204) He is willing to kill his own family in the name of the law.
Antigone is a traitor for giving a burial to her dead brother Polyneices, but Ismene is sentenced as well, merely by association. He is so devoted to his own laws that he fails to see that he is disobeying the law of the gods. Antigone, however, puts the laws of the gods ahead of the laws of the state. She gives her brother a proper burial, and therefore allows him passage into Hades, in opposition to Creon+s decree. This shows her shortsightedness is because she only does what she thinks the gods want. Instead of abiding by the law that Creon decreed.
Creon is also short-sighted because he refuses to believe any other opinions or laws than his own. Creon and Antigone are both so loyal which can also make them very extreme. Creon is an extremist in reason. He thinks his law is the most important.
Antigone is an extremist of passion. Creon is unwilling to put the god's law above his law. He is u unwilling to listen to the passionate pleas of his son to let Antigone live. He instead puts his laws first, and states that if he lets Antigone live after she has broken his law, "How shall I earn the worlds obedience?' His extreme will, later leads to his son's death because he thinks his son has been corrupted by Antigone. Antigone is equally as extreme and she will not listen to the reasoning of her sister Ismene. Ismene reminds her of the problems and dangers she is undertaking when she goes out t to bury Polyneices.
Antigone will not listen though, and this ends up killing her as well. Because Creon and Antigone are very extreme in their ways this can also make them cruel and foolish people. Creon is quite cruel to everyone around him. He never once listens to anyone, but instead he acts foolishly and hurts everyone. When he is talk talking to his son Haimon, he retorts that Haimon is "a fool' and that he is, "Taken in by a woman!' These words and his fathers attitude hurts Haimon and he becomes filled with rage towards his foolish father. Antigone is also cruel and foolish.
Especial ly to her sister Ismene. Ismene tries to help Antigone in the start of the play. When she tries to tell Antigone not to risk everything to please the gods. Antigone won't listen though, She just tells her "Go away Ismene. I will be hating you soon', in a striking example of her cruelty. Ismene and Antigone have been caring sisters until suddenly Antigone abandons her because she does not agree to help bury their brother.
Creon also is cruel to his old friend and prophet, Teiresias. Teiresias co mes to warn him that if he does not free Antigone that bad things will happen, but Creon doesn't believe him. He claims that Teiresias has "sold out' as a prophet and shows how foolish he is not to trust a long standing friend who has never been wrong. Creon and Antigone are both plagued by hubris. Creon wants to stand by the law he has made. Antigone is willing to risk it all to stand by the law of the gods and what is right.
Creon's stubbornness is clear when his old friend and prophet Teiresias. Tells him to free Antigone. Creon stubbornly refuses and remarks to the old wise man, "Bribes are baser then any baseness' Creon does not even listen to Teiresias, who made him king in the first place. He is so stubborn that he refuses to listen cl aiming that Teiresias had been corrupted by money and so his pride hampers his good judgment. He is so concentrated on everyone being corrupted that he does not even listen to common sense. His son, Haimon tries to come tell him that he should not s entente Antigone to death.
Creon is outraged by his son siding with her. He tells Haimon that he is a "Fool, adolescent fool! Taken in by a woman!' Haimon responds to this by saying that he is "perverse' Creon, even more outraged, calls him a "Girls struck fool' Haimon storms off with a loathing hatred for his father's arrogant pride and stubbornness. Antigone has equal hubris herself. She is so passionate on burying her brother that she will not listen to reason. Full of arrogance and indignatio on, she will not listen to the words of her sister. Ismene warned her of the dangers of burying their brother Polyneices but Antigone will not listen.
She calls Ismene a "traitor' for not coming to help her and Ismene shakily replies "I am so afraid o f you'. Antigone, instead of listening to the common sense of her sister, snaps back that "You need not be: you have yourself to consider, after all'. Later in the story Antigone is arrested for burying her brother and Ismene comes crawling back to her. Ismene breaks the conversation between Antigone and Creon by admitting that, "I am guilty, if she let me say so'.
Antigone will not let her and retorts coldly, "No, Ismene. you have no right to say so. You would not help me, and I will not have you h elp me' This reveals clearly how arrogant and stubborn Antigone can be. Even after her sister wants to share in her punishment and crawls back to her.
She will not accept it to her own demise. Creon and Antigone are both remarkably similar people. Ironically, they are both so much the same that they can not see it. The flaws they share make neither of them willing to listen to the other. Many of their traits are identical, but their opinion s are so different that they can't stand each other. Sophocles did an excellent job in portraying the two vast extremes of the spectrum, passion and reason.
This story hopefully proves to people that neither extreme passion nor extreme reason, but rather be in the middle and achieve arete.