Essay on Antigone

Essay on Antigone

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One commentator has argued in "Antigone" that Antigone's "view of what is right is as twisted as that of Creon." Although I do not believe that either Antigone's or Creon's view is "twisted," I do believe that their fate is a direct result of their extreme pride and stubbornness. In "Antigone," Sophocles examines the conflict between the requirements of human and divine law that is centered on the burial of Polynices, Antigone's brother and Creon's nephew. On the issue of the burial, their views are opposed and they each believe that one is right and the other is wrong.

The views of Antigone and Creon are opposed, and they both possess the same stubborn belief in their own righteousness. This ultimately brings them both to their tragic fate. At first we believe that Creon acts from sincere, patriotic and unselfish motives, and that he is acting out of a sincere belief that his decision is best for the state. This is shown in the first episode (lines 163 - 331), where Creon hopes to be a wise and good ruler. Later on we learn that he is too inflexible and narrow to heed criticism or admit fault, and that this causes all the misery in his life. The same is true of Antigone. She appears to be a very compassionate individual in the prologue; however, later on we learn that she is also stubborn and unwilling to bend in her beliefs, which ultimately leads her to her tragic fate.

We come to know of Antigone's plan to bury her brother in the prologue. She confides to Ismene that she knows of Creon's edict, but that she intends to defy it. At Ismene's protests of not defying the king's orders, Antigone states that there are higher obligations to the dead and the gods. She points out (lines 85 - 91): "I will bury him myself, and even if I die in the act the death will be a glory. I will lie with the one I love and loved by him - an outrage sacred to the gods! I have longer to please the dead than please the living here: in the kingdom down below I will lie forever. Do as you like, dishonor the laws the gods hold in honor." Antigone feels it is her duty to bury her brother and is in her view fulfilling a higher law. She believes that she is acting according to her religious duty and that she cannot dishonor the laws the gods have established. Here Antigone appears to be a selfless and compassionate individual, willin...


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...Her overall character, however, debases the true meaning of the word.

Meanwhile, Creon is praised for his belief that anyone who betrays his city should be dishonored. In the early stages of the play, he points out (lines 231 - 234): "Never at my hands will the traitor be honored above the patriot." In itself, this point would make Creon a wise and ethical ruler. However, when we look beyond this point, we see Creon is not the wise and ethical ruler that people view him as. The people of the state are first and foremost to Creon, but the pride of being a ruler is really first and foremost to Creon. The laws Creon proposes to the people show that the people are not his major concern, only himself. He thinks that he knows everything better than everyone, and his laws will make the citizens of Thebes better people. However, he fails to understand that the citizens of Thebes can make themselves better people by developing characteristic traits from within.

Both Antigone and Creon are wrong because of their pride; however, their views are not "twisted." They believed their pride was superior to everything, and it blinded them from their reasons for their actions.

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