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Antigone - Pride and Conflict of Law
Sophocles' Antigone, in its later phases is no longer about the conflict of law; It is about stubbornness and self will, about the sin of refusing to listen; about a man who has never been told.
Conflict of law, presents the initial disturbance within Thebes. Creon, King of Thebes, refuses to bury the body of Polynices, for in his eyes Polynices is 'his country's enemy' Antigone pg.131. Thus, despite breaking the laws of the gods, Creon holds his power higher than that of God and heavens and enforces his law. As the story follows, Sophocles expands on the ignorance presented by Creon and Antigone, and it is also found that it is impossible to defeat an ignorant man, or woman in argument. It is this ignorance, that establishes the notion of the sin and punishment that both Creon and Antigone face due to their stubbornness and self will.
Antigone holds her love of family, and respect to the dead, elevated beyond the laws of Creon, whom she believes, has no righteous justification to close his eyes to the honor of the deceased. In her determination to fulfill Polynices' rights, she runs directly into Creon's attempts to re-establish order. This leads to encounters of severe conflict between the dissimilarities of the two, creating a situation whereby both Creon and Antigone expose their stubbornness and self will.
It is Antigone's morals, which drive her to betray the laws of man, in order to honor the laws of God. Knowing and comprehending the consequences of defying Creon's ruling do not restrain the intensity of Antigone's self will, yet it feeds her hunger to achieve her principles. Losing sight of her future, Antigone allows her stubbornness to consume her life, taking with it, the prospect of marriage, motherhood and friendship. As the story continues, we find that Antigone focuses more on the need to establish her human ethics in spite of Creon, rather than proving the incorrectness of man defying god's laws.
Following the unlawful burial of Polynices, Antigone openly admits to Creon the knowledge of the following punishment by carrying out such a defying act. "I knew it naturally, It was plain enough." Antigone pg.138. With the intention of gratifying the laws of the gods, Antigone holds neither guilt nor regret as she feels that she has brought justice to the eternal rest of her brother.
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Creon's judgment over the living and dead infuriates Antigone, and on many occasion we encounter their conflicts, which are based not only on their differences- but also on many of their similarities.
In an almost reflective similarity to Antigone, Creon advances to extreme measures in order to fulfill his need to repair and strengthen his territory. "He was concerned with re-establishing the social order which the shocking news of Jocasta's and Oedipus's incest had fractured, and which the civil war between their sons had almost ruined." Charles Paul Segal 'Conflicts of Antigone' pg. 46. Creon prides himself to be a powerful dictator and leader within the Theban society. He rules his city with the contention that his law is the only law. As opposed to Antigone's stubbornness, Creon's is far more illogical and dominatingly based. Indeed, Sophocles demonstrates the 'sin of refusing to listen, and about a man who has never been told' supremely through Creon's character.
On many occasion Creon speaks of honor and goodness overruling evil, 'I am determined, that never, If I can help it, Shall evil triumph over good' Antigone pg.131-132. Yet he ceases to identify the hypocritical aspect of his decisions, to defy the laws of God, in order to pursue his own beliefs of mankind.
It is towards the later stages of the story that Creon's inability to hear and listen to advice is increasingly evident. Teiresias enters this ordeal, offering advice to Creon. Despite his outreach, Creon bemuses Teiresias and neglects to listen to the importance of his words. 'You have given a son of you loins, To death, in payment for death' Antigone pg. 154. Once again Creon is warned by the chorus that Teirasias' words are not to be taken lightly, it is then that Creon steps down and adheres to the given advice, 'Now I believe, it is by the laws of heaven that man must live'. This change of attitude arises because Creon believes that this is the best course of action for his city, and for himself. For the reason that Creon had still not changed for the benefit of others, but more so to accompany his power, the deaths of Antigone, his son Haemon, and wife Eurydice end his personal happiness.
The ignorance and stubbornness encountered through Antigone and Creon prove to be the greatest tragedy, as it is this that leads to their demise. Antigone's self will and determination lead to suicide as a final ultimation that she believes will burden Creons existence, and shed light to her morality and religious beliefs. It is Creons negligent nature that fails him. His greed for power and authority over his city, confine his ability to see beyond his own thoughts and judgment. This is his ultimate sin, as it leaves him with a great deal of power and authority, yet this is meaningless when the love of family is lost at the expense of gratification of mans laws, in conflict with the laws of heaven. While Creon has the expectation of his words to be carried out, it is his own words that have significant meaning as they are words that capture his downfall.
"There is always someone who is ready to be lured in the hope of gain" Antigone pg.132.