Essay, Research Paper: Antigone

Literature: Sophocles

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Antigone Sophocles' trilogy of Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and
Antigone is a powerful, tragic tale that examines the nature of human guilt,
fate and punishment. Creon, Oedipus' uncle and brother-in-law, is the story's
most dynamic character. His character experiences a drastic metamorphosis
through the span of the three dramas. Creon's vision of a monarch's proper role,
his concept of and respect for justice, as well as his respect for the design
evolve considerably by the trilogy's tragic conclusion. In Oedipus the King (OK)
, the audience is introduced to a Creon who seems to put loyalty to the king
above all. He sympathizes with the tragic plight of King Oedipus and asserts no
apparent ambition himself. His attitude toward the king is one of yielding and
fulfilling reverence. Creon's notion of justice in OK stems directly from the
divine. That which the gods have decreed must become law. It pains Creon to have
Oedipus exiled, but he must do so as the gods have willed it. Creon's respect
for divinity and prophecy seems to be his defining trait in OK. His attitude is
one of unquestioning reverence. In Oedipus at Colonus (OC), one sees the
beginning of Creon's decline. Creon has now come to occupy the throne that once
belonged to Oedipus. It soon becomes apparent that his vision of the proper role
of a king has changed to accommodate his new-found position. The emphasis shifts
from that of a king who must rule wisely to one who must rule unyieldingly. The
kingship becomes a selfserving instrument for Creon in his attempt to secure the
return of Oedipus and the good fortune prophesied to accompany him. Creon's
notion of justice is severely distorted in OC. He becomes monomaniacal -
conducting his affairs with tyranny and belligerence. For example, he threatens
to harm Oedipus' daughters if the blind beggar does not return to Thebes. His
view of rightness and fairness is no longer in line with that of his subjects.
In OC, Creon still retains some respect for divine prophecies. These have after
all motivated his desire to return Oedipus to Thebes. Antigone reveals the
ultimate extent to which Creon's character deteriorates. His transformation
completes itself; he has become an unreasonable tyrant. Creon can no longer be
called a king. He has become a despot. There is absolutely no justice to be
found. Violence and threats of violence are the tools by which he rules. For
example, his senseless threats to an innocent sentry reveal the true extent of
his loss of reason. Creon has distorted the proclamation against Polyneices'
burial, which was originally intended to foster Theban unity, into a display of
rashness and incompetence. There is no mention of the gods and their intentions
on Creon's behalf in Antigone. He has been so far destroyed by his own power as
to dismiss the divine will that he originally thrived on.
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