Antigone: the character of Creon - Research Paper Example

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The tragic figure of Antigone, who gives her name to the play by Sophocles, is usually regarded as the main character at the center of the huge moral dilemmas that emerge in the play. She shares this spot, however, with the almost equally tragic figure of Creon…
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Antigone: the character of Creon
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"Antigone: the character of Creon"

Creon respects the gods, and especially the patriarchal supreme god Zeus “who watches everything” and is deeply concerned to protect his citizens against any threat. His harsh decision to prevent the decent burial of Polyneices, is, however a step too far for the Chorus, who hint that he should confine himself to dealing with those who are living, and leave the fate of the dead to the gods: “Son of Menoikeos", it seems to me you now control all laws,/ concerning those who’ve died and us as well ”. The mention of his ancestry points out the importance in Greek society of reverence for family, especially when they are dead. Creon, however, forgets this aspect and rules that no-one should be permitted to complete their familial duty to honor the dead Polyneices. The error that Creon makes is not deliberate, but it results from his world view as a responsible ruler on earth: “Creon, who lacks a true “reverence” for the gods, the powers beyond human life, also lacks a deep awareness of the complexities within the human realm. Hence he tends to see the world in terms of harshly opposed categories, right and wrong, reason and folly, youth and age, male and female.”...
Creon takes up a logical position, as defensible as Antigone’s support for her dead brother, because he adheres to clear rules. Both Antigone and Creon are “characters attempting to negotiate individual and communal concerns in the effort to be ethical” (Walker, 2008, p. 199) If you stress the family, then Antigone’s position is stronger, but if you stress the state then Creon’s position is stronger. In fact the play is about the difference between sticking to the letter of human laws, like Creon, and sticking to the deeper moral imperatives that the gods control. At the beginning of the play Creon is depicted as powerful, but extremely uncompromising. He is unable to consider being merciful for the sake of the grieving women. In contrast to this he is shown at the end of the play to be a broken man, far less sure of his power, and aware that he has been guilty of arrogance and hatred which have brought only disaster to his whole family. As Creon takes his dead son up the stairs, he reflects that everything he touches goes wrong, and interprets events as acts of fate, because he did not intend these awful consequences. The Chorus seems to agree because it implies that destiny has ordered the train of events: “There’s no release for mortal human beings,/not from events which destiny has set” (Sophocles, lines 1337-1338). As a ruler, Creon was destined to behave the way he did, trying to restore order to his kingdom and make an example of people he regarded as traitors in order to prevent any future uprisings. His fault was not so much in what he did, because he was obliged to be firm and authoritative both in terms of the laws of the state, and in terms of his divine right to rule over other Read More
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