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Sophocles: “Antigone”- The differences between Creon and Antigone

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Throughout the play, the difference between Creon and Antigone is vividly shown. By the end of the play, Antigone, it is evident that a total of five characters have lost their lives. This is due to the characters’ failure to choose where their loyalty and obligation should stand, thus creating conflict. The main character of the play, Antigone, is forced to choose a decision between abiding by the law, and showing obligation to her family. King Creon is also forced to make a decision between his moral obligation and his family obligation, but his actions create a series of tragic happenings.

Moral obligation is an obligation arising out of considerations of right and wrong. With this in mind, one could say that Creon, Antigone’s uncle as well as the king of Thebes, chooses to act with moral obligation. His decision to forbid the burial of his nephew Polyneices was to prove that he would not allow a traitor to be honored by being given a proper burial. His niece, Antigone, refuses to tolerate his order, and buries her brother, Creon’s nephew, anyway, so she is sentenced to death. Not even his own son was unable to sway his decision. Creon was a man of the law, and since he was king, he was not about to bend his rules in fear that he may lose control of his people. His actions show a neglect of his family and a failure to drift from the responsibility that his job impresses upon him.

On the contrary, Antigone demonstrates family obligation. Family obligation is an obligation arising out of consideration of ones family. Antigone shows consideration for her family with whatever she does. When Antigone first hears of the decree Creon has imposed, stating that no one is to bury the body of Polyneices, she immediately knows this is wrong, and goes straight to her sister for help. She believes everyone in her family should be honored, even her sister who would not help her with the burial. It is obvious that she feels a strong obligation to her brother, and she makes sure he is given what he deserves. When Antigone was caught attempting to re-bury her brother’s body, she is not afraid, nor does she deny her actions to Creon, when he desperately was trying to find a way to let her off. Antigone’s disobedience to her uncle Creon is not made in order to defy the law, but is made in respect of her family and her religious beliefs.

Indeed, these two opposing views of loyalty and obligation are what cause much of the conflict in the play. While reading the play, the possible problems that can occur when family is ignored due to the obligations of a job is clearly illustrated. Creon’s misfortune of losing his two nephews, a niece, his son, and his wife in such a short time lead him to change his priorities, but proves to be too late to save anyone. If Creon had had unwavering devotion in his family, the fate of himself, and his family could have been different. Antigone may have defied the law, but she was bound to her views on what was morally right. Her motivation throughout the whole play was love for her family, and respect for the gods.

In conclusion, the characters Antigone and Creon are extremely different, and that is shown by where their values reside. By the end of the play, Creon is besieged by grief and sees the liability in his actions, which further illustrates Creon’s weakness in comparison to the strength of Antigone. In addition, ones family obligation should, at times, be considered before ones moral obligation, being unable to choose between the two creates much conflict. Antigone may have died, but her death was to be remembered with dignity and with her beliefs unbroken because of her decision to support her family. Creon’s obligation to following the law causes him to live on with the guilt that went along with his unfaithfulness to his family. Lastly, it is peoples’ decisions that control their fate, and their actions that make life move on.

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