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Antigone is motivated to disobey Creon's edict and give her brother, Polyneices, a proper burial because she believes both Eteocles and Polyneices deserve the same honor, to be reunited with their deceased parents to live in death in Hades. Antigone says, (lines 21-22) "Yea, hath not Creon, of our two brothers slain, honored with burial one, disdained the other?" This line shows Antigone's disagreement with Creon's decision to not bury both brothers honorably. When Antigone says, "So with my loved one loved shall I abide, my crime a deed most holy: for the dead longer have I to please than these on earth," it shows us the importance Antigone places on the afterlife. It is because of this importance and Antigone's own sense of right that she was motivated to disobey Creon's edict.
Ismene is a foil to Antigone when she refuses to help bury their brother, Polyneices. The statement, "Nay, nothing do I scorn: but, how to break my country's law -- I am witless of the way," shows that Ismene is unwilling to aid Antigone, even though she seems to agree with Antigone's purpose. Ismene even tries to talk Antigone out of disobeying Creon's edict by using the history of their father against her. In lines 58 thru 60 Ismene says, "And now shall we twain, who alone are left, fall like the rest, and worse - in spite of law, and scorning kings, their edicts and their power?" By refusing to help Antigone and trying to convince her to leave her course Ismene is a foil to Antigone in this play.
3. In evaluating Creon's first speech as a new king, I would say that it does sound admirable. His commitment to the good of the country of Thebes above all else is admirable. Creon pledges to seek out and follow the counsel's advice and to not give pardon to anyone who acts against the best interests of his country. This is ultimately the reason he orders Polyneices' body to be left unburied, as we see in Creon's statement, "Polyneices: he, from exile returning, utterly with fire his country and his fathers' gods would fain have burnt, fain would with kinsmen's blood have slaked his thirst, or dragged us captive hence." Looking at his first speech this way, it was admirable.
4. The blow her defiance has caused to his ego motivates Creon's approach to Antigone. As a result he takes a harsh stance with her. "Insult on insult heaped! Was't not enough my promulgated laws to have transgressed, but, having done it, face-to-face with me she boasts of this and glories in the deed? I surely am the woman, she the man if she defies my power, and I submit." This quote shows how distressed Creon is at not only being defied, but defied by a woman. To correct the blow he feels was made against him, Creon acts harshly by considering no sentence for her but death.
5. At first, we see that Haemon holds much respect for his father and his counsel and that Creon returns the praise his son has for him, regarding him highly because of his obedience. Haemon's devotion to his father is shown in his opening line, "Father, I am in thy hand: with thy wise counsels thou dost direct me; these I shall obey." The breakup between Haemon and Creon occurs when Haemon questions his father's decisions instead of blindly obeying. This helps us to understand that Creon is the kind of man that requires obedience from all those around him, that without that obedience, Creon's own self-image flounders and he acts harshly to regain himself. In comparison with Creon's character, Antigone's is one of moral law vs. The legal law of man that Creon favors. This contrast is the very theme of the play; Is it right to punish one for acting on what one believes is morally right, even though it goes against the law that has been laid down by man? Haemon's character and the change we see through the breakup with his father is essential in conveying these ideas to us.
6. Creon, contrary to the advice of the chorus, buries Polyneices first and then frees Antigone because of his own pride. Creon answers the chorus, "Hardly indeed, but yet with forced consent I'll do it, stooping to necessity." Here Creon acknowledges to the chorus that he was wrong, but it is hard for him to correct his actions now and acknowledge his wrongdoing to the people, most of all Antigone. Denying Antigone the pleasure of seeing her brother buried is the only satisfaction Creon can now have over the disobedience Antigone showed him. So, contrary to the advice of the chorus, Creon buries Polyneices and then frees Antigone.
7. Eurydice's character is necessary toward the end of the play to show the error of Creon's actions. It is common in Greek plays for the wrongdoer to lose not his own life, but his family's. The death of his wife is a direct blow to Creon because she was an innocent loss born directly of Creon's actions. If he had not moved his son to grief by interring Antigone in the tomb, he would not have killed himself. If Haemon had not killed himself, Eurydice would not have been moved to such a grief as to take her own life. Creon acknowledges this when he proclaims, "All, all on me this guilt must ever rest, and on no head but mine." Eurydice's character was necessary to show just how wrong Creon's actions were.
8. It is appropriate that the seer, Teiresias, is blind because it gives a symbolic approach to his prophecies and also casts him as a humble, honest man. Teiresias cannot see what other men see and other men cannot see what he "sees," the gods' words and wills. Teiresias states, "Prince of Thebes, we come -- on sight for both our common road descrying as behoves blind men to find their way by help of others." From this we learn that Teiresias is not disheartened by his lack of physical sight and humbly accepts the help he needs of others. When Teiresias speaks of the sacrifice he burned he says, "This from this boy I heard, whose eyes beheld the failing signs of sacrifice obscure: others by me are guided, I by him." This shows us the symbolic aspect, whereby the boy told him what he saw with his physical eyes and Teiresias was able to see its meaning with his "sight." So Teiresias' blindness is both symbolically appropriate and character appropriate.
9. Creon is the tragic figure in this play as he is the character who unknowingly brings suffering upon his own head through actions displeasing to the gods. Whereas Antigone knew and accepted the consequences of her actions before she ever acted, Creon refused to back down even after he received counsel not to continue with his plans. Antigone's life was actually ended by her own hand willingly. Creon kept his life, but carries the burden of guilt for the death of his son and wife. Creon's last lines of the play are, "Oh lead me hence, unprofitable; who thee unwittingly have slain, child, and my wife, unhappy; and know not now which way to look to either; for all things are crooked that I handle, and a fate intolerable upon my life hath leapt." These are the words of a man who has lost all because of his own ignorance and pride and show the tragedy of Creon.
Sophocles' "Oedipus the King"
1. Oedipus' opening speech tells us that his attitude toward the people of Thebes is one of devotion. In his first lines Oedipus acknowledges the suffering of his people and tells them, "Indeed, I'm willing to give all that you may need; I would be very hard should I not pity suppliants like these." To correct the problems in Thebes Oedipus sent Creon to the Pythian temple to learn from the god Apollo what could be done to save the city. Oedipus speaks, "But when he comes, then, may I prove a villain, if I shall not do all the God commands." With these words, Oedipus promises to follow the instructions of the god Apollo to the letter, or be proved unworthy to sit at the throne. This promise and his words all tell us that as a king, Oedipus is devoted to the well being of his city and all the people of Thebes.
2. In Oedipus' response to Teiresias we see a different side of the king, one that lets his temper and pride get in the way of his clear thinking. Oedipus' responds to Teiresias' refusal to speak with the lines, "Indeed I am so angry I shall not hold back a jot of what I think." He then goes on to accuse Teiresias by saying, "had you had eyes I would have said alone you murdered him." Even when Teiresias plainly…[continue]
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