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Conflict in Antigone Essay


In the first scene of the play, Antigone makes her case clear that she is going to bury her brother, no matter what Creon has put as law. After she tells her sister Ismene that she is going to bury Polyneices, Ismene has her own thoughts about it, as shown when she says, The law is strong, and we must give in to the law, in this thing and in worse. I beg the dead to forgive me, but I am helpless: I must yield to those in authority. Antigone is reluctant to give in to the laws Creon has put forth, and believes that honor and love come before law and punishment or death. Apparently the laws of the Gods mean nothing to you, she says to Ismene. Antigone believes that is her right by the laws of the Gods for her to bury her brother. She believes that the laws of the Gods are way more important than the laws the government has created, and these laws have driven her to believe that burying her brother will be forgiven. Antigone and Creon have a confrontation, and Antigone makes it clear to Creon that she will not be following his laws, but the Gods laws. Antigone tells him that it was she who dusted the body of her brother. Creon asks her if she had heard and understood the proclamation that the body was not to be touched and Antigone reluctantly agrees. Creon taunts her by asking, And yet you dared defy the law? And Antigone tells him,

I dared, it was not Gods proclamation. That final Justice that rules the world below makes no such laws. Your edict, King was strong, but all your strength is weakness itself against the immortal unrecorded laws of God. They are not merely now: they were and shall be, operative forever, beyond man utterly.

Antigone worked around the laws of the state because she had faith in the higher law of Gods and that she had the explicit right to bury her brother, despite what the laws made by Creon had anything to do with. She states in her response that the Gods laws are more important and therefore come before the laws of the King. The Kings laws are strong, but they are weak against the laws of the Gods and always will be. The laws of the Gods are ever vigilant; they will always be followed, unlike the laws the King makes. The Gods would not make such a proclamation. The Gods would not make a law that disallows a sister from burying her own brother, a direct family member.

Contradictorily, Creon firmly stands in his place that the laws of the state should be followed, although this goes awry come the end of the play. Creon believes in the laws of the state so stubbornly, and he publicly makes it clear that anyone who disobeys his proclamation about not burying Polyneices will be stoned in the public square by anyone who can get their hands on projectiles. Creon thought that Polyneices was a traitor for fighting against his native city and Creon believed that no traitor should have a burial. He states, As long as I am King, no traitor is going to be honored with the loyal man. When he is talking with the Sentry about the dust on Polyneices, the Sentry brings up the idea that maybe the Gods tried to bury Polyneices. Creon replies with, The Gods favor this corpse? Why? How had he served them? Tried to loot their temples, burn their images. Yes, and the whole State, and its laws with it! He believes that it is a horrible thing to go against the State and its laws, so much that he will not even bury a man that went against them.

You can see Creons position again in his conversation with Haimon. They are talking about what Antigone has done and Creon says to Haimon, Ill have no dealings with lawbreakers, critics of the government: whoever is chosen to govern should be obeyed. In this you can see that Creon expects the laws of the state to be followed and if someone breaks them he is not going to tolerate it, even if it is his sons bride-to-be.

Although Creon is a firm believer in the laws of the State in the beginning of the play, at the end he has a change of heart. When he hears the prophecy of the blind man, that he is going to have some misfortunes in his family, he consults the chorus and they tell him that he must free Antigone from the stone tomb she was sent to. When he has made up his mind to not be so stubborn in his support for the States laws, Creon comes to the belief that, The laws of the gods are mighty, and a man must serve them to the last day of his life. Creon comes to the conclusion that he was wrong to send Antigone to the tomb and he has changed his mind about which laws are more important. He sees that the laws of the gods are higher than the human laws and that they must always be obeyed. He sees that he was foolish and stubborn to believe so much in his laws, for in the end, his laws are no match for the laws of the gods.

I believe that from the view of Sophocles, the blame for the tragedies falls more on the shoulders of Creon. I say this because some of the other characters in the play question his stubbornness in making sure that Antigone is punished. Haimon, his own son, questions his reasoning for wanting to punish Antigone and says that some people in the city feel that Creon is going too far as well. Even members of the chorus and choragus show doubt in what Creon is doing. I believe that Creon is more to blame because it was his proclamation and his decision to punish Antigone so harshly when people close to him, including his own son questioned his actions. He is too stubborn and proud to back down, even when others are questioning him and saying that maybe he should let off a little. Creon does not want to listen to the others though, he believes that only he has the right to rule and make the laws and punish those who break them as he sees fit.

Haimon questions his fathers reasoning in sentencing Antigone when he comes in to talk to him towards the end of the play. Haimon does not think that his father, Creon, should be so harsh in his sentence towards Antigone and he brings the point that many in the city feel the same way. But they are too scared to say anything other than what Creon would want to hear so they keep their opinions to themselves. Haimon says to Creon,

Yet there are other men who can reason, too; and their opinions might be helpful. You are not in a position to know everything that people say or do, or what they feel: your temper terrifies-everyone will tell you only what you would like to hear. But I, at any rate, can listen; and I have heard themThey say no woman has ever, so unreasonably, died so shameful a death for a generous act.

Haimon is telling his father that the people of the city do not agree with him but they are too scared to say anything. They feel that she should not be dying for covering her brothers body and saving it from dogs and vultures. Haimon agrees with them and goes on to ask his father to not be so unreasonable. He says, I beg you, do not be unchangeable: do not believe that you alone can be right. Haimon wants his father to reconsider; he does not want him to think that only he can be right and that the opinion of the others is wrong. Haimon supports the opinion of the city that Antigone should not die for what she has done. He further shows this when his father asks him if Antigone is not a criminal and he replies, The City would deny it, to a man. This shows that the City does not think Antigone has done anything wrong but they would not say it to the King, only to other men like themselves. They do not think she should die for what she has done but they would never challenge the King on it.

The Choragus also questions Creon sentence of death for Antigone. They ask him, Do you really intend to steal this girl from your son? Creon replies that death will do that for him and the Choragus says, Then she must die? Creon says that she must. The Choragos is surprised that Creon is actually going to kill Antigone and take her from his own son whom she is intended to marry. They cannot believe that Creon would actually do such a thing. In the end they are the ones who persuade him to change his mind and go and release Antigone from her tomb but he is too late.

It is for these reasons that I think that from the view of Sophocles, the blame for the tragedies falls more on the shoulders of Creon. He had the chance to change his mind, he had others saying that maybe he should think about it and he did not. He decided to be stubborn and do things his own way and not listen to others.

From my own contemporary perspective, I believe that Creon is to blame for most of the tragic events in the play. I do however, place some blame on Antigone, although it is very little. She knew what she was doing when she went and covered her brothers body with dust. She knew that Creon had issued a proclamation that it should not be touched but she did it anyways. I do think that she had the right to though; I do not believe that she was doing anything wrong or something that almost every other brother or sister would do in her shoes.

I place most of the blame on Creon because it was his decision to sentence her to death, and not to go back on what he said, despite the protests from others. Creon had the opportunity to not punish Antigone how he did and he could have avoided the tragedy all together. He made his son angry by saying that he was going put his bride-to-be to death. When Haimon sees that she is dead, he kills himself too, right in front of his father. Creon could have prevented this by listening to his own son and not making him so mad by telling him he was going to out her to death and that she was a criminal when Haimon did not believe it. Creon is to blame because he was the one in power who made the law, and he is the only one who could change it or do anything about it. If anyone else would have had a say Antigone would not have died. But Creon was too stubborn to change his ways and it lead to the tragedies of Antigones death, his own sons death, and his wifes death.

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