The play Antigone by Sophocles shows a conflict between the King Creon and Antigone. This conflict eventually leads to the destruction of the house of Creon. Upon closer analysis, it is obvious that Creon caused this to happen himself. There is an old saying that power corrupts and Creon has fallen victim to power. In the opening of the play, we learn that Creon has been proclaimed king. We expect Creon to be the same rational man as we saw him to be in Oedipus the King who stood up for justice and defended the right deeds.
However, later on we can clearly see that this is not the same Creon. Creon, the King, has been corrupted by the power bestowed upon him. The first decree that Creon issues prohibits the burial of Polynices. Creon calls him a traitor and says that he is not worthy of a proper burial. Creon also says "whoever places a friend above the good of his own country, he is nothing." This means that Creon considers that the duty to the state has higher priority than the duty to another man. He reiterates this when he says, "our country is our safety." All of his points are respectable because Creon gives reasons for his statements.
He uses logic to convince the people that his decree is correct and the people accept his decree. After Antigone buries her brother's body and the sentry discovers the grave, he unwillingly goes to Creon to tell him of this act. Upon hearing that the corpse has been buried, the outraged Creon accuses the sentry of doing this himself. He has no evidence of any sort but accuses the sentry of being corrupted by money and lashes out allegations at the poor guard. This is the beginning of Creon's downfall. The sentry is correct when he says, "Oh it's terrible when the one who does the judging judges things all wrong." The old Creon who used to defend justice is now judging without justice.
Furthermore, when the leader of the chorus suggests that perhaps the gods buried the corpse, Creon is furious. He thinks it is impossible that the gods would do such a thing. He says, "Must you be insane?" He says that there is no reason why the gods would care about a person who came to destroy the city and wreck the temples honoring the gods. How can Creon, a mere mortal, know the wills of the gods? When it is discovered that Antigone buried her brother's body, she says that she was only obeying the law of the gods. She says, "Nor did I think your edict had such force that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods." Creon dismisses her statements thinking that his decree was in accordance with the gods and he could never be wrong. Furthermore, Creon shows further collapse of his justice when he accuses Ismene of an equal part in scheming the burial of her brother.
Creon does this without any evidence against Ismene. The only reason she is also considered as defying the law is that she is Antigone's sister. This guilt by association shows that Creon's justice system has completely broken down and he is accusing anyone he can of defying his laws. The days of Creon, the just man, has ended. Creon displays his hypocrisy in his conversation with his son Haemon. When Haemon tells his father that he will obey him, Creon praises him and says how wise he is.
However, later when Haemon suggests that his father could be wrong, Creon dismisses him completely. Haemon says to his father, "Oh give way. Relax your anger - change!" but Creon replies by saying "So, men our age, we " re to be lectured are we? - Schooled by a boy his age?" Creon further shows his arrogance when he says phrases like "And is Thebes about to tell me how to rule?" and, "Am I to rule this land for others- or myself?" and furthermore, "The city is the king's - that's the law!" Such statements clearly shows that Creon has surpassed being righteous and is now so arrogant that he considers himself supreme. He sees no flaws in himself and almost considers himself as equal to the gods! Later on in the play, when Creon talks with Tiresias, he again shows his hypocrisy. Tiresias is about to give him an advice and asks if he will obey him, Creon says, "I will, I've never wavered from your advice before." However, as soon as Tiresias tells him the advice and it is not to the liking of Creon, he lashes out allegations against the old prophet, saying, "You, and the whole breed of seers are mad for money!" Creon, who admits that the prophet had helped him save the city before, but now, only speaks for profit. Tiresias tells Creon that he has made a mistake and advices him to correct the mistake.
He says, "All men make mistakes, it is only human." He also says, "Stubbornness brands you for stupidity - pride is a crime." Nevertheless, despite all these warnings, Creon ignores him and ridicules him. He later says, "are you aware you " re speaking to the king?" suggesting that no one had the right to question the king. Creon has fallen victim to power. His pride has reached a zenith. Despite all his efforts to correct his mistakes from now on, Creon is punished for his crime of being proud. Creon pays a big price for his crime.
Even though he tries to revoke his ruling of killing Antigone, the gods punish him for his actions and give him a much bigger loss. Creon loses both his son and his wife, and he carries the guilt for their death until the end. The play Antigone clearly shows how power corrupts a virtuous man like Creon and makes him commit the crime of excessive pride. It also shows that the price of such a crime is very costly as Creon loses his entire household in this battle of his arrogance.