” Never to grant traitors and subversives equal footing with loyal citizens, but to honour patriots in life and death.”
The play is written by Sophocles and is a tragedy. The story happens after the death of Oedipus, and it is about Antigone’s decision to act against Creon’s orders and to bury her brother Polyneices, who was a traitor and died with his brother. There is a controversy of whether Antigone behaved heroically or did something wrong, and whether Creon’s orders were right.
This play is very interesting to read. I would recommend every one to read about its background information and previous stories and characters before officially reading it because that would be very helpful to better understand the story. It is heart-touching and dramatic at the same time.
Creon’s Big mistake
In my point of view, Creon makes a mistake enacting a law against burying Polyneices because it harms himself in several ways. Even though Creon’s wrongdoings could not necessarily prove what Antigone did was right, I think the character Antigone is praiseworthy while Creon is not.
To begin with, Creon’s own actions ruined his reputation of a wise and humane ruler and contrarily loses his support and credibility among his people. His son Haemon describes the citizens’ reactions to his order as “all that’s talked about in this city now is Antigone. People are heartbroken for her. What they’re asking, did she do so wrong? What deserves a punishment like this? As far as they’re concerned, she should be honoured- a woman who rebelled!” (31). When citizens witnesse the brutality and recklessness in Creon’s action as he forbids Antigone to bury Polyneices and refuses to change his decision, they no longer considered Creon a credible and reliable king. The prophet Tiresias also comments on his attitude toward Creon as he says “the man that’s blinded always needs a guide” (42). Through his comment on Creon, it is clear that he knew Creon did a wrong thing that would sabotage his authority and reputation, and Tiresias himself loses faith in his ruler already. If a ruler loses credibility and has a bad reputation, that is when his people no longer favor him and his decisions, he loses authority and his empire would be easily overthrown. Thus, what Creon did was wrong because his authority was highly alleviated by his actions.
Secondly, Creon regrets his own decisions and actions after he realizes the consequences of them and acknowledges that his actions have led to a devastating consequence. Creon confesses in devastation that “she was guiltless. It was my hand on the hilt, my hand that drove the blade” (55). He admits that his actions lead to the death of his own son, which further lead to the death of his wife. He cries that “my recklessness and pride I paid for in the end. The blow came quick” (56). Reflecting upon what he did, Creon finally comes to a realization of his pride and wrongdoings and even regrets what he has done. The consequences lead by his mistakes and his opinions on them are all negative, which means what he did is wrong.
It is disrespectful and morally wrong to trample a corpse as a ruler. Tiresias persuades him to ” pull back. Yield to the dead. Don’t stab a ghost”(44) and asks him “what can you win when you only wound a corpse” (44). His orders and laws against Poleneices lack meaning and reason, and it only shows his selfishness, ignorance and innocence. Tiresias later claims that “no earthly power, no god in upper air exerts authority over the dead” (46). It is beyond a ruler’s rights to wield power over the dead, and no matter what the dead has done, a ruler should still respect to him or her. Trampling the dead only shows Creon’s inability while he could have acted in a more honorable and generous way of forgiveness.
Information: Antigone- Sophocles
Date: 10/20/2018 revised in June, 2019
revision comments: written early in freshmen year, this essay is not necessarily a book review but more of a debate draft. I enjoyed writing it and using evidence to support my claims.