Friday, 24 August 2012

Conflict in Antigone

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Conflict in “Antigone”


Akanu Ozuzu (54-50-7486)

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ENC 110

In the following paper, I plan to discuss the source of conflict between the title characters of Antigone and Creon in Sophocles “Antigone.” I will also discuss how each character justifies his or her actions and what arguments they give for their justifications. Finally, I talk about who Sophocles believes is right as opposed to whom I believe is right.

The main source of conflict between Antigone and Creon is the issue of the burial of Antigone’s dead brother, Polyneices. Both of her brothers were killed in battle; however one brother fought against their home city and was considered a traitor. Creon issued a law that whoever tried to bury Polyneices would be put to death. Antigone is very upset because her one brother is graced with all the rites of a hero, while the other is disgraced. Antigone is determined to bury her brother because of her loyalty to her family and to the gods. She believes that no mortal, such as Creon, has the right to keep her from her own. Even if Antigone must die during the burial, she will not disgrace the laws of the gods. She believes that she has to please to dead before she pleases the living.

Creon’s states, “Whoever places a friend above the good of his own country, he is nothing.” (Antigone 0-04) Therefore, he does not allow the burial of Antigone’s brother because he did not place the good of his country first. He was a traitor is Creon’s eyes. Creon made this law for the good of his country. The following statement that Creon makes exemplifies this “I could never make that man a friend of mine who menaces our country”, “Never will the traitor be honored above the patriot” (Antigone -5) Creon’s argument is for loyalty to the country and he does not think that the gods would have any concern about the body of a traitor.

Antigone goes on with the burial of Polyneices because she claims that Zeus did not make the proclamation and that a mere mortal cannot override the gods. Her justification for the burial of her brother is that she will not break the laws of the gods. She already knows that she will die one day and she would rather die now than to let her brother rot. Allowing this would be a pain greater to her than death itself.

When Creon discovers that Antigone is the person that defied his proclamation, he still sticks to his word by punishing her to death, if he lets her go, he is not a man, she is. “This would be unheard of” states Creon, “No woman is going to lord it over me.” (Antigone 588-58) Creon could not make a law and then take it back, especially not for a woman. He says, “I’m not about to prove myself a liar, not to my people, I’m going to kill her.” (Antigone 7-75) Creon also feels he must defend the men who live by the law and never let a woman triumph or be inferior to a woman.

I believe Creon originally made this for the good of his country. He would not be considered a very good leader if he allows the burial of traitors. However, when he finds out that the one who broke the law was a woman, it became a matter of pride. He could not rebuke what he originally said, especially if it was a woman that broke the law. He would be believed to be less of a man to listen to what a woman told him to do.

I think that both Creon and Antigone can be considered right in their struggle. Antigone is suffering greatly due to the loss of both of her brothers. Her one brother was treated as a hero and the other as a dog. The gods also ruled Antigone. She was fearful of their wrath if she disobeyed them. I do not believe she did anything wrong and I see no weaknesses in her argument. I think that she did the right thing and was very brave for doing so. Creon can also be considered right in his argument. He has his pride to worry about; he is the king after all. Kings are not supposed to say one thing and then do another. He proclaimed a law that was not to be broken. His biggest concern was that not only was the law broken, it was broken by a woman. Women were considered to not have a voice or be strong and courageous as Antigone was. They were supposed to be submissive and listen to the man. Therefore, Creon felt he especially had to enforce his law. The weakness in Creon’s case is that his pride would ultimately prove to be the ruin of him. Creon had many people, such as his own son and a prophet, come to him and try to warn him of his decision to kill Antigone. Tiresias the prophet says, “Stubbornness brands you for stupidity-pride is a crime.” (Antigone 117-11) However, after Tiresias warns and prophesizes of all the terrible things that would befall Creon if he went through with killing Antigone, he changed his mind. I felt bad for him at the end of the play because he does go to free Antigone, but finds that she hung herself. Creon’s son and wife then both kill themselves as well. For Creon, it was a little too late. In the end, a messenger says, “Creon shows the world that of all the ills afflicting men, the worst is a lack of judgement.” (Antigone 17-17)

I believe that Sophocles thinks that Antigone is right. Throughout the play, the chorus makes several references of how they feel bad for Antigone. No one throughout the play, besides her sister, tries to talk Antigone into reconsidering burying Polyneices. Creon’s son Haemon tells his father of what he hears people around the town saying about the situation. Haemon says, “No woman ever deserved death less, and such a brutal death for such a glorious action…Death? She deserves a glowing crown of gold.” (Antigone 777-778, 78) The play seems to praise the actions of Antigone and it is never seen that she is looked down upon for what she did, except by Creon.

In conclusion, the gods and the love of her family rule Antigone’s life. Creon’s life is ruled by what he thinks is good for his country and pride. Creon did not change his mind to free Antigone until a prophet told him he would suffer horribly for his actions. However, because Creon was so stubborn for so long and did not take heed to anyone’s advice sooner, he ultimately suffers in the end, as does everyone else in the play. This was all due to a man’s lack of good judgment, selfish pride and stubbornness.

Works Cited

“The Antigone.” The Drama It’s History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 1 ed. Alfred Bates. London Historical Publishing Co, 106. Pp. 11-1.

“Antigone,” Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 00

http//encarta.msn.com 17-00 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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