A Clash Of Values Essay

1456 words - 6 pages

Sophocles’ Antigone is a Greek tragedy that portrays a conflict between two ancient Greek values. Creon, the king of Thebes, touts the importance of loyalty towards the state, and Antigone, his niece, shows the willingness to sacrifice her life for the ultimate purpose of shining light on the importance of loyalty to one’s family. In Sophocles’ Antigone, Sophocles uses the clash between Creon’s value of loyalty to the state and Antigone’s value of loyalty to family in order to demonstrate not only the potential damage that could result from placing too high of an importance on loyalty to the city-state, but also the challenges involved with being a leader in ancient Greece.

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She recognizes and fears the repercussions associated with standing up against the state, but she also feels guilty for abandoning her sister during the burial of Polyneices.

Much like Antigone, Creon is not afraid to stand by the decisions that he feels are just. However, Creon’s perspective of justice is vastly incompatible with Antigone’s concept of justice in the play. Creon deems his nephew Polynices as a traitor to the city of Thebes. He believes that in order for justice to be rendered, Polynices’ body must be left unburied so that animals are able to pick it apart. Creon places a much higher value on one’s loyalty to the state than one’s loyalty to family. This is the reason he decides to punish his niece Antigone for what he views as a treasonous act against the state. He then somehow manages to delude himself into thinking that all other Theban citizens stand behind him in his decision to put Antigone to death. Later in the play, when Haemon reveals to him that this is not the case, Creon instinctively reacts with hostility. Creon’s heated exchange with Haemon represents the stage of the play where Creon reveals just how blinded by power he has allowed himself to become. He essentially claims sole ownership of Thebes and makes it abundantly clear that in his view the king’s law trumps all else. But Creon’s unjustifiable display of arrogance is nothing more than a result of self-delusion. For the majority of Sophocles’ Antigone, Creon firmly believes that the Gods support his decision to refuse a burial for Polynices. The is first made evident when Creon confronts the chorus for insinuating that the Gods themselves may have had a hand in the sprinkling of soil over the corpse. Creon refuses to believe that the Gods would ever support a traitor to the state.

Antigone views Creon’s refusal for a burial as a rebellion against the Gods, while Creon believes that Antigone’s refusal to abide by his decree is a rebellion against the state. Although these two characters differ in their primary values, Antigone and Creon both feel that the Gods support their decisions. However, by the end of the play it becomes painfully obvious that the Gods side with Antigone in her dispute with her uncle. The curse dealt upon Creon demonstrates that the Gods value the laws of religion over the laws of the state. Unlike Antigone, the Gods do not care whether family is involved in the decision of burial. The reason that the Greek Gods curse Creon is because he has blatantly disobeyed divine law. As a result of his rash decision making, Creon is subject to the wrath of the gods and loses his wife and his only remaining son. His son Haemon commits suicide by stabbing himself with a sword, shortly after he finds his fiancé dead in the cave. Creon’s wife Eurydice ends her life after finding out that her son has committed suicide. However, before all of these events occur, Tiresias comes to confront Creon. Creon’s exchange with Tiresias represents the point of...

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