CharacterAnalysis of Creon in Antigone
Antigoneis one of Sophocles’ famous works. It is one of three playspopularly known as the Theban plays which are set in the city ofThebes in the times succeeding the reign of Oedipus as king. One ofthe characters who shows up in all the three plays is Creon.Throughout the story, Creon goes through several charactertransformations. From giving the impression of being a rational manin Oedipus, the king to being the tyrant antagonist in the PlayAntigone, Creon remains one of the most intriguing characters of allSophocles plays. This essay shall examine the character of King Creonin Sophocles’ Antigone where he is the main antagonist
WhenCreon ascends to power upon the death of Polyneicesand his brother Eteocles,he is a man plagued by many uncertainties. This could be attributedto the fact that he perhaps took over the throne, not as a worthyheir but because he was the last surviving male. He is fearful thatthe people may not recognize and acknowledge him as a powerfulleader. He is scared that things might spiral out of his control anddeals ruthlessly with any form of sympathy towards Polyneices who heconsiders a traitor.
Creonis a steadfast ruler and lawmaker. Although his laws can be morallyquestionable and considered cruel, Creon is loyal to his position asa king and to the laws that he has passed. He believes that the onlyway to rebuild Thebes after the years of bloodshed and disaster is bybeing a strict ruler. According to him, this came first even beforeany religious beliefs, roles to the society and moral obligations. Noamount of persuasion, not even from his son Haemon Can make himchange his mind. He refuses to crumble under the pressure of familyto change his decree showing his commitment to the kingdom of Thebes.StewartGaiter states that “Creonis the representative of arbitrary Power which the oppressed, forwhatever their reasons, have the divine right to doubt, question andbring down.”
Hisfirst decree was that the body of Polyneices should not be buried. He says “no one should touch him or grace him with sepulture or agarment, but leave him unburied, a corpse for dogs and birds to eat,a ghastly sight of shame” (Sophocles,et al., 2016). Accordingto him, despite his attack being justified, Polyneices is a traitorwho allies with other cities to attack his hometown nearlyannihilating it
Lainman was no villain but a brother
Thepatriot perished by the outlaw’s brand
Nathlessthe realms below these rights require
Notthat the base should fare as the brave
Whoknows if this world’s crime are virtues there? (Sophocles,et al, 2016)
Creonis obstinate. His first law as a king can be considered as entirelyunreasonable. Even with the rise in the level of opposition Creonhardens his stand and refuses toback down instead laying blame on those around him and accusing themof controversy. This could be attributed to the fact that Creon was aman conscious of his public image. He is afraid of what the people ofThebes would make of him if he backtracked on his decrees. This couldget him to appear like an undecided leader which was the opposite ofwhat he wanted people to think of him as. Ultimately his unwaveringloyalty to the statutes of the land turned out to be his hamartia. Aword fondly to as tragic flaw
Otherliterary critics would refer to Creon as heartless. This is because,in the play, he shows total disregard for family ties and chooses touphold the law. He is furious when he discovers that Antigone hadmade an attempt to give his brother a proper burial despite havinggiven a decree forbidding it. He goes ahead to give an order of theexecution of Antigone and her sister Ismene even though she was hisniece and was betrothed to marry his son Haemon. Even when the blindprophetess warns him of the Gods being displeased with his decree ofleaving Polyneices unburied, and of the impending punishment upon himof the death of his son, Creon rejects her warnings and insteadaccuses her of being corrupted. Although he rather reconsiders anddecides to free Antigone and bury Polyneices his change of attitudecomes a little too late
Inhis argument with Haemon as he pleads with him to think about hisdecision, it is evident that Creon is an arrogant male chauvinist. Creon is portrayed as an arrogant individual who looks down uponthose younger than him and lacks respect for women. He refuses toadmit that his son might be right on his sentence upon the sisterslater reconsidering it after he had left. He also accuses him ofhaving unmanly weakness by siding with a woman. The fact that he ismade furious by Antigone’s decision not to submit to his authorityfurther confirms his chauvinistic nature of scorning women.
Inhis pride, Creon is blind to how much his stubbornness had got in theway of how he handled problems until Tiresias prophecy has beenfulfilled. According to Adam cap, “Sophoclesat first portrays Creon as a just leader. He has good, rationalreasons for his laws and punishments. By the end of the play Creon’shubris, or excessive pride, has taken over him, which leads to hisdemise.”
Cap,Adam. "Creon as A Tragic Character In “Antigone”".Adamcap.Com,2016, Creon as a Tragic Character in “Antigone”https://adamcap.com/schoolwork/creon-as-a-tragic-character-in-antigone/.
Sophocles,et al. Antigone.1st ed., Stuttgart, Reclam, 2016.
Stewart,Gaither. "Man and Laws of the Land". Litertaryyard.Com,2017, The Tragedy of Power in Sophocles’ Antigone | Literary Yardhttps://literaryyard.com/2013/08/11/the-tragedy-of-power-in-sophocles-antigone/.