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Antigone and Creon, Essay Example

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The tensions between Anitgone and Creon make up the central narrative of Sophocles’ play Antigone: Creon, King of Thebes, after political struggles against his opponents, decides to enact revenge on his political opponent Polynices by refusing Polynices a proper burial after death. Antigone, engaged to Creon’s son, and also sister of Polynices, decides to violate the King’s order and bury her brother: this leads to her own punishment, being sealed off in a cave, where she ultimately takes her own life.

Both characters thus embody an adherence to particular morals and principles: in the case of Creon, it is a concept of revenge, although in a more sympathetic interpretation, it could be understood to be a concept of honor. Creon views he has been betrayed by Polynices, and thus the punishment of Polynices is itself a consequence of betrayal.

Yet Antigone’s principles here seem to be higher: she wishes to bury the dead, and this shows her dedication to a concept of the after-life and to the Gods. Antigone wants her brother to be accorded proper respect, and risks and ultimately loses her life for the defense of the dead.

Antigone’s end here is more tragic: she sacrifices and risks her own life for Polynices. Her suicide in the cave is the result of her trying to fulfill some ethical principles. It is difficult to read Creon’s position in this same light: is revenge truly anything more than a personal grudge, a manifestation of the ego? While, as mentioned above, Creon’s could be perhaps be interpreted as ethical in accord with violating trust and thereby becoming, in Creon’s view, a traitor. But the egotism of Creon’s decision becomes clear when contrasted with Antigone’s self-sacrifice. Hence, Creon’s death is merely the result of his immersion in the life of politics, while Antigone’s death is truly tragic, forcing us to question social normativities in search of a selfless ethical principle.

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