To have superiority over others can change the mentality of an individual for the worse. One of the major key themes running through Antigone is the competition of egos between many characters. Creon is portrayed in a multitude of ways but particularly as having an abundance of pride, as well as being uncompromising. In Sophocles play, Antigone, supremacy clouds Creon’s mind, and he will soon lose everything moments too late to undo his wrongdoing as a result of pride and uncompromising morals.
Throughout the whole course of Antigone, Creon carries an overbearing sense of pride and irrational belief that all women should accept their inferior role in Greek society. When Creon initially finds out that someone had defied him by giving Polynices a proper burial he displays utter disbelief that anyone would go against his will. Sentry, a very brave soldier, puts it upon himself to share with Creon, “All right, here is comes. The body—someone’s just buried it, then run off… sprinkled some dry dust on the flesh, given it proper rites” (277-280).
Furthermore, Creon makes it very clear that he does not even put forth consideration that a woman could have fulfilled this act by stating to Zeus, “if you don’t find the man who buried that corpse, the very man” (346-347). However, when Creon does discover that it was indeed a woman who had the integrity to go against his word, he is beyond infuriated and humiliated that an individual below his ranking in society could have such audacity to go against his word.
Creon “will do whatever is necessary, including the stern enforcement of harsh rules” (Lines) when dealing with the opposing sex. He then goes on to state, “I’m not the man, not now: she is the man” (541). This line illustrates that in Greek society women are viewed as the inferior gender, and should not be placed in positions of power.
As Creon establishes his superiority over women, Sophocles introduces Antigone as the opposing force to this patriarchal view. Antigone portrays a strong willed and proud defiance of Creon which in turn gives the reader the idea that she is not to be viewed as a typical woman of Greek society. In the opening scene, Antigone makes it very clear that she acknowledges the consequence of death by violating Creon’s edict stating to her sister, Ismene, “And even if I die in the act, that death will be a glory” (86). This is a very strong statement held with pride that comes across very similar to Creon’s ego, which demonstrates both power and masculinity, two terms that were unheard of and never to be used to describe a woman. Antigone holds morals of being a “lone individual, refusing to away or be swayed by any in the community” (Lines). Also, like Creon, Antigone portrays uncompromising morals in her belief that her brother, Polynices, deserves a proper burial by stating, “I’ll lie with the one I love and loved by him” (87). Towards the end of the play, Antigone still holds strongly to her beliefs and original motivation with the inability to deny her wrongdoing by stating to Creon, “I did it. I don’t deny a thing” (493). The depiction of Antigone as strong and unafraid of a man even in the moment of death is an extreme contrast against Creon’s patriarchal belief of the inferiority of women.
By the end of Antigone, Creon is stripped of all sense of strength and pride he originally possessed. While Antigone died a very noble death, never losing sight of her beliefs, and “by being true to her one-sided devotion to her brother” (Epstein), Creon shamefully watches his family members die. Through an overbearing competition of battling egos, Creon does eventually fold and wishes to see his own life taken as well, “Oh god, the misery, anguish—I, I’m churning with it, going under” (1434-1435). Furthermore, Creon proceeds to say, “Take me away, quickly, out of sight. I don’t even exist—I’m no one. Nothing” (1445-1446). It is a shame Creon has to be scolded by a blind prophet, “You, you have no business with the dead, nor do the gods above—this is violence you have forced upon the heavens” (1101-1103). Three tragic deaths could have been avoided at all costs if pride was pushed aside for even moments. The emotion that is now demonstrated by Creon is a massive deviation from a powerful, proud ruler he once represented throughout the majority of the play. Overall, Antigone’s pride and strength far surpassed Creon’s due to his cowardly demise which in turn proved she had successfully challenged the belief that women remain inferior to their male subjects in Greek society.
Throughout Antigone, Sophocles established a very strong foundation between a patriarchal view of women in Greek society, and a ruler who clearly defies it which stemmed a conflict between two very similar characters, Creon and Antigone. The defiance Antigone establishes with Creon takes the negativity out of a woman’s role in society and creates a positive one that demonstrated that simply defying a superior power can sometimes be sufficient enough to defeat it altogether. Unfortunately, Antigone is a very strong play based on stubbornness between two forces that ends in taking the lives of three family members. However, Creon in turn learned a very valuable lesson from Tiresias, “All men make mistakes, it is only human. But once the wrong is done, a man can turn his back on folly, misfortune too, is he tries to make amends, however low he’s fallen, and stops his bullnecked ways. Stubbornness brands you for stupidity—pride is a crime”
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