Reality of Interpretation between Antigone and Creon
How it works
Sophocles Antigone shows the reality of interpretation between Antigone and Creon, and other characters in the play. Antigone and Creon are similar in being stubborn but have a different understanding of reality. In the play, we see that Antigone and Creon dispute the definition of justice and power. The defender of family rights is Antigone, and her opponent is Creon who defends the idea of the power of the state. Antigone shows the conflict between the human beings as a conflict of personalities. The two different ways of seeing the place of power, family or state make the main conflict of the play. The battle between Antigone and Creon is a mortal one. Antigone uses the family tie to create a limit whereas Creon knows no limit except the state of his ego. He imagines the world full of evil, and that’s why he represents the world as himself. Creon is blind by being hubris, and he is tyrannical and stubborn; whereas Antigone’s stubbornness serves in choosing the family ethics and her higher law. Antigone is a strong individual who does not allow her brother to be dishonored. Creon seems like a strong character. He declares the law and threatens the people to follow his edict. Both Antigone and Creon possess unshakable wills, and this gives them firm confidence and arms them with intolerance.
Sophocles shows Antigone’s and Creon’s different views of reality that make for different ethics. We see ethical defiance from the very beginning of the scene between Antigone and Ismene when they discuss the duty of a sister. Antigone recalls her sister informing whether she is with her or against her. She calls Ismene to participate in a noble act. This act is so important that Antigone threatens her sister saying, “And now you can prove what you are: a true sister or a traitor to your family.” In this quote, the contrast between the traitor and true sister defines the ideals of a family a family member. They are the only one left. The word now indicates that it is the time for the sisters to join and act, prove that they are strong, too. This play shows the harsh and stubborn Antigone contrasted with a soft and timid Ismene which is sympathetic to her sister but not daring to act with her. As a woman, Ismene says that they are only women, and there is nothing they can do. The words women and nothing telling us that women are zero in the society. Passive and resigned Ismene sees her womanhood as weakness. Now we see “a good girl” is against “a bad girl”. But which one is good or bad? Maybe Ismene is a good girl in the matter of obeying Creon’s edict and saving her life, and a bad girl for being a coward. Perhaps Antigone is a bad girl in the matter of disobeying Creon’s order, but maybe she is a good girl for choosing the right thing to do. Antigone’s anger and determination contrast Ismene’s passiveness. In rejecting Ismene’s passive obedience to the state, Antigone responds to a higher law, a power that is higher than Creon’s authority because leaving the dead unburied offends the gods.
How it works
The main conflict of the play is that Antigone and Creon have different ways of seeing the reality of the power, family, and state. The tragedy reveals one of the conflicts of the society, and it is the conflict between generic unwritten laws and laws of the state. Creon supports strict obedience of state laws. But Antigone puts generic family laws above, and therefore she buries her brother, even if the state law prohibits it. Antigone’s primary character trait is that she is the willpower which seen in the battle with Creon. In their dialogue, we see a rapid exchange of replicas such as, “ah, Creon, think me a fool, if you like; but it may well be that a fool convicts me of folly.” Antigone attacks Creon by calling him a fool because his actions are unwise. He blames her for breaking the law being foolish, but she tells his face that he is the one is fool by disobeying the gods and that the wrath of the gods is stronger and higher than his law. Antigone honors the ancient higher law, and she does not doubt in making the right decision. Feeling right, Antigone defies Creon with confidence saying, “your edict, King, was strong, but all your strength is weakness itself against.” In this quote, we see powerful words such as King, strong, strength opposing to the word weakness. Eventually, Creon is the king with power, but he is the weakest link in the play. He justifies his actions his actions by interests of the state, anyone who is against him gets the cruelest punishment, any disobedience to his order accepted as anti-state act. Creon thinks he is the only one who has complete power, even if he is wrong. Creon’s blindness and stubbornness are the results of his hubris. Antigone is stubborn, too. And her stubbornness seen in her behavior such as, going against the law and accepting the death. Antigone chooses her fate which collided her with Creon. Her stubbornness mentioned in choragos’s words saying, “like father, like daughter.” This quote expresses a father regarding of a tree, and a daughter regarding of fruit. Antigone is so much like her father: in making quick decisions, having a head, being self-willed, firm, and armed with intolerance. Antigone’s unyielding personality means that she is the true daughter of her father.
Antigone values the family, gods, and love for her brother; whereas Creon does not want to know limits but the state and his ego. In Antigone everything is love. In Creon everything is self-love. He has a family, wife, and son, but himself and his pride entirely occupy him. He protests the love immediately which mentioned in his speech, “there are places enough for you to push the plow” forcing his son to exchange love for another one. In this quote, the word places mean there is a lot of different type of girls to use. Creon is so sure that Haimon can replace Antigone which leads the reader to believe that Creon has no respect towards women. He expects the men to be the primary in the society, and the women to have a secondary role. It reflects Ismes’s attitude when she states that she is only a woman and cannot fight against men. So, she believes women as weak and slavish to men. Creon does not know love, and he does not know his son, too. He loves power.
The common flaw of the Greek tragic theater is hubris, the pain, and loss which experienced in the divine punishment for excessive pride. The tragedy sums up with choragos’s speech saying, “there is no wisdom; big words are always punished, and proud men in old age learn to be wise.” In this quote we the word wisdom which is a high status of human and high quality of life. Wisdom comes with experience, time and age. Can we find the quality of wisdom in Creon? We cannot even see it. Then comes across the word such as big words which are loud, boastful, and bragging. Being so stubborn, Creon puts his unreasonable law higher than the morality, himself, and his family. Throughout the whole tragedy, he never listens to anybody. He misunderstands his rights and overestimates his capabilities. The moral destruction of Creon is more terrible than physical death. Receiving a warning from the blind prophet Teiresias, he still prefers to remain stubborn which kills his son, wife. Creon’s pride prevents him from recognizing the error of his ways and mistakes cause the death of his family and his death wish. It would be better if Creon realizes that he is wrong from the beginning. The idea of the tragedy is that Antigone’s death is the victory and freedom. Creon’s fate is the idea that the gods do not leave injustice unavenged.
The conflict of the characters in this tragedy is our conflict. The play Antigone is the queen of tragedies. It teaches us lessons for the future. Antigone affirms the existence of a higher reality that she reveals in love for her brother. This reality is her conscience which not officially written or declared. Her conscience helped her to win the battle with injustice.