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Literature: Sophocles

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Antigone and Oedipus, written by Sophocles, are dramatic plays with a tragic
ending. The main theme for Antigone is that people sometimes have to learn the
hard way from their mistakes. This theme is expressed in the final four lines of
the play. They read, There is no happiness where there is no wisdom; No wisdom
but in submission to the gods. Big words are always punished, And proud men in
old age learn to be wise. These lines are an important part of the play. They
symbolize Creon’s bad decisions he made, his defiance to the gods, the
punishment he went through because of his edict, and the wisdom he gained
because of all his mistakes. “There is no happiness where there is no
wisdom” demonstrates how Creon not using wisdom in his decision affected him.
By declaring that Polyneices could not have a proper burial, he went against the
gods and the other citizens of Thebes’s beliefs. This was not a wise decision
on his part, and because of it he lost his wife, his son, and his happiness.
Creon also defied the laws of the gods. This is what is expressed in the line,
“No wisdom but in submission to the gods.” In Antigone, the edict and
decisions that Creon made demonstrated that his law was more important then the
gods laws. His defiance of the laws eventually made him believe, by talking to
Teirisias, that something bad would happen to him, so he gave in to his
decision. When he gave into the gods he gained wisdom and learned that his
actions would be punished. Creons edict is considered his big words. In the
third line it says, “Big words are always punished.” Creons edict was
punished by his loss of happiness. He proclaimed to his city that Polyneices may
not be buried, when he did this he was very proud and demanding about his
decision. He was determined not to change his mind for anything. These big words
that he proclaimed would bring his downfall. Because Creon locked Antigone up,
for burying Polyneices, she killed herself. Creon’s son Haimon, who was
engaged to Antigone, also committed suicide upon seeing his beloved Antigone
dead. Also Creon's wife took her own life. If Creon hadn't gone against what was
right, by making his laws more important then the god’s laws, and issuing his
edict, he would not have suffered the way he did. By getting involved in
stopping Polyneices burial by his edict he brought upon his own terrible
punishment. The last line, "Proud men in old age learn to be wise"
explains the main theme of Antigone. The proud man is Creon, the King of Thebes.
By all the mistakes he makes he learns to be wiser. As a ruler he was a very
proud man. He didn't seem to care about anything as long as his commands were
carried out. By losing his son and wife and probably the respect of many
citizens of Thebes he grew wiser. Creon's bad decisions he made, his defiance to
the gods, the punishment he went through because of his edict, and the wisdom he
gained because of all his mistakes, all contribute to the main theme of Antigone,
that people sometimes have to learn the hard from their mistakes. The
explication of the final four lines of the play really give a better
understanding of the theme that Sophocles was trying to get across to his
audience.
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