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Antigone notes II

Creons character has changed dramatically from the time of Oedipus to


the events of Antigone. He is still aware of the power of the fates and the
vision of Teiresias but he is corrupted by his power as king and blinded by
his stubbornness and pride. Much like Oedipus, Creon brings about
tragedy and sorrow because of his own arrogant foolishness. He is tainted
by the power he never wanted, and by the time he realizes this, it is too
late.

Haimon's loyalties are divided, because his devotion to the gods and to
Antigone puts him at odds with his father. While he is similar to Antigone
in terms of his opposition to Creon's unjust rule, Haimon is less obstinate.
Where Antigone is openly defiant, Haimon uses more reason. His attempt
to reason with Creon is in part due to the fact that he feels a sense of
loyalty toward his father. This is the central conflict of Haimon's characterhe wants to do what is ethically right, but he wants to obey his father:

Antigone is sorrowful for the loss of her life that will result from her
actions, but she seems to welcome the idea of ending a life that has been
filled with so many hardships. She appears somewhat eager to become a
martyr. It would seem that because her life is haunted by the specter of
family sin, the notion of honor in death is a welcome one-a sort of
atonement for the sins of the father. Her words clearly express that she
feels she is tainted by the shame of her family and cannot escape it:
Antigone: Unspeakable, horror of son and mother mingling: Their crime,
infection of all our family . . . The blasphemy of my birth has followed me.
(3.4.40)
The burden of Oedipus' curse weighs so heavily on Antigone that she
feels that she must make a grand gesture in penitence. Her actions are in
part an act of morality but also an attempt to reconcile her struggles with
the tragic circumstances of her life. Clearly the title character in this play
is complex; she is at once the hero, the victim, and a conflicted soul
seeking peace in a life of turmoil and honor in a life stained by the sins of
the past.

In Ancient Greece, new ideals surfaced as answers to life's complicated


questions. These new beliefs were centred around the expanding field of
science explaining things rationally based on empirical evidence. Man
was focused on more than the Gods or divine concerns. A government
that was ruled by the people was suggested as opposed to a monarchy
that had existed for many years. Freedom of religion was encouraged to
be exercised in city-states.
These new ideals, though good in intentions, often conflicted with each
other creating complex moral dilemmas.
Such was the case in Antigone a play written by Sophocles during this
era of change. In the play, Antigone and Creon battle a philosophical war
dealing with the controversy of the Greek ideals.
They both based their actions on their beliefs of what is right and wrong.
The conflict arose when the ideals that backed up their actions clashed
with each other, making it contradiction between morals.
Antigone's side of the conflict held a much more divine approach, as
opposed to the secular road that Creon chose to follow.
Antigone feels that Creon is disregarding the laws of the Divine through
his edict. After she is captured and brought to Creon, she tells him,
"I do not think your edicts strong enough to overrule the unwritten
unalterable laws of God and heaven, you being only a man."
Antigone's staunch opinion is one that supports the Gods and the laws of
heaven.
Her reasoning is set by her belief that if someone is not given a proper
burial, that person would not be accepted into the afterlife of Hades.
Antigone was a very religious person, and acceptance of her brother by
the Gods was very important to her. She felt that
"It is against you and me he has made this order. Yes, against me."
Creon's order was personal to Antigone. His edict invaded her family life
as well as the Gods'.
An important issue in Classical Greece was about the what role if any the
government was to have in matters concerning religious beliefs. In
Antigone's eyes, Creon overstepped the boundaries by not allowing her to
properly bury her brother, Polynices.
She believed that the burial was a religious ceremony, and Creon did not
have the power to
deny Polynices that right. Antigone's strong beliefs eventually led her to
her death. Never, though, did she stop defending what she thought was
right. As Creon ordered her to her
death, Antigone exclaimed,
"I go, his prisoner, because I honoured those things in which honour truly
belongs."
She is directly humiliating Creon by calling his opinions and decisions
weak and

unjust. She also emphasizes "his prisoner," which tells us that Creon's
decision to capture Antigone was his own, and was not backed up by the
majority of the people. She feels that Creon is abusing his power as king
and dealing with her task to a personal level.
Creon's actions are guided by the ideal that states "Man is the measure of
all things." The chorus emphasizes this point during the play by stating
that "There is nothing beyond (man's) power."
Creon believes that the good of man comes before the gods. Setting the
example using Polynices' body left unburied is a symbol of Creon's
belief.
"No man who is his country's enemy shall call himself my
friend."
This quote shows that leaving the body unburied is done to show respect
for Thebes. After all, how could the ruler of a city-state honour a man who
attempted to invade and conquer his city.
From that perspective, Creon's actions are completely just and supported
by the ideals.
Though most of Creon's reasonings coincide with the Greek ideals, one
ideal strongly contradicts his actions. The ideal states that the population
would be granted freedom from political oppression and that freedom of
religion would be carried out.
Creon defied both of these.
First, Antigone was "his prisoner", not necessarily the publics. In fact, the
general population supported Antigone, though they were too scared to
say anything. Haemon, the son of Creon, knew of this, and told Creon,
"Has she not rather earned a crown of gold?- Such is the
secret talk of the town."
This proves that Creon was exercising complete domination of political
power, which is strictly forbidden in the new democratic ideals. Also, not
allowing Antigone perform her religious ceremony of burying her brother is
interfering with religious affairs.
This denies Antigone freedom of religion, hence, contempt for this ideal.
The contradictions between the beliefs of Creon and Antigone are strong
throughout the play. Both have well-structured arguments, but neither
completely dominates the other. Antigone is motivated by her strong
religious feelings while Creon is out to make good for his city-state. The
chorus' opinion is the determining factor, as in the end, they convince
Creon to set Antigone free.
Creon had to weigh each factor carefully, and in the end, he had to decide
between ideals. His mind was torn in two. "It is hard to give way, and hard
to stand and
abide the coming of the curse. Both ways are hard."
The contradiction of ideals was what led to Antigone's, Haemon's, and
Megareus' death.
Both sides were just, all beliefs were supported. Creon was forced to
decide the unanswerable, decipher the encoded, complete the impossible,
and determine right from wrong when there was no clear answer.