Creon is the leader or person of status in the play, “Antigone” by Sophocles. His status was the new king of Thebes right after the previous kings Laius and Oedipus had fled. As the king, he seems to care more about the loyalty and the obedience of the laws in his city than his own proper family. Even though the reason he became king was due to his sister, Jocasta who was the wife/ mother of the former king Oedipus. Since Creon rules the throne now he honors those of his city to follow the laws unlike those who betray or disobey. As stated in scene one, “These are my principles, at any rate… following decision concerning the sons of Oedipus: made the Eteocles, who died as a man should die, fighting for his country, is to be buried with full military honors… but his brother Polyneices, who broke his exile to come back with fire and sword against his native city… to have no burial.” (Scene I, Lines 161-166) He values and stands for the rights of the law of man instead of the rights of the law of God when it comes to his prized possession, his city. Creon, the king of Thebes makes him the person of status due to his level of royalty.
The tragic flaw in the play is indeed Creon’s hubris. He has so much pride in himself and his city that it gets in the way of seeing how wrong his decisions are just because of his strong beliefs of loyalty and the laws. As repeated multiple times he obeys the laws of his city, and those who break them, no matter who they are would be dishonored. In this case, Polynices, who is his proper nephew, let him rot in public due to his betrayal against the city, he claimed, “ … no man is to touch him or say the least prayer for him; he shall lie on the plain, unburied; and the birds and the scavenging dogs can do with him whatever they like.” (Scene I, Lines 169-172) He then goes to say that this is his command and the people should obey because he is king and everyone has to do what he says or else he or she who defy him would be sentenced to death. The hubris that is portrayed in the play is a tragic flaw since this action is not right, it’s cruel, and doing that to his own family member just because of the laws he needs to follow. He would not even give a burial to his own nephew because of his own pride. Imagine what he would do to a non-family member, this flaw can lead to worse situations.
Due to the hubris of Creon, the protagonist of the situation of Polynices, is Antigone his sister, Creon’s niece. She is faced with a dilemma of leaving her brother rot or doing the right thing but gets punished. Unlike Creon she values her family more than anything which can be shown by, “ It was public. Could I help hearing it? … I knew I must die, even without your decree … This death of mine is of no importance; but if I had left my brother Lying in death unburied, I should have suffered…” (Scene II, Lines 335 and 361, 370-71). She knew that death will come her way and she did not care because it was the right thing for the laws of God. Creon is now in a situation where he has placed two of his family members on the spot, one left to rot in public and the other is being placed to death. He perhaps understands that this is not a good crisis for his reputation as an uncle but he obviously is more worried about how unfair he would look like as a king. That’s why the situation with Antigone is one were Creon has to think carefully of what he demands to happen to her because of his son, Haemon who loves Antigone. Although even though it is clear what the law, that he created himself, that death is his destiny.
Antigone has placed Creon into a crisis where he needs to actually think about what the consequence is for her. His choice may or may not harm him as a king but someone is definitely going to be a victim of his decision. At the moment Creon is towards killing Antigone, but of course his son, Haemon is going to change his mind. Creon and Haemon have a dispute about Antigone on how his son has lost his head over this woman and how his son values nothing more than his father’s success and happiness but what is doing is wrong. Fortunately, their talk was kind of successful, “ I will carry her far away out there in the wilderness, and lock her living in a vault of stone. She shall have food, as the custom is, to absolve the State of her death.” (Scene III, Lines 632-635) Creon listened to his son’s words and let Antigone live, although she would live as a prisoner until her death arrives. Later on, Teiresias claims to Creon that all men make mistakes, but only good provide when they know it’s wrong but it fixes the evil. The only actual crime is pride, but of course, Creon would not yield and claims that, “ … no man can defile the Gods.” (Scene V, Line 819) He would take the advice given to him, but unfortunately, Antigone had already killed herself which led Haemon to end his own life as well. To include, this, unfortunately, leads to the death of his own wife because he basically murdered his own two sons and his niece.
Creon began to show emotion; he actually cried. But like always, even though he was devastated he questioned what other burden that was worse than this. And of course, being the tragic hero in the play he was informed about the death of his wife and her reason why she did it. Then it hit him, he could not believe what has happened… all at once. He was stunned, he had no one left but his own pride. He was actually completely devastated, “Let it come, let death come quickly, and be kind to me. I would not ever see the sun again.” (Scene V, Lines 1026-29) HIs life was technically over, gone without his family but it was his own fault, his pride, because most of his time as king he cared nothing more than for his city and its laws.
After Creon’s loss, he then finally realized that it was his own tragic flaw, his hubris that mockingly lead to the destruction, the loss of his family. He lost so much time trying to be the best king of Thebes and making sure that his people, who literally were terrified of him, obeyed his precious laws. The good part about his discovery is that he accepts the fact that his doing was wrong, “ It is right that it should be. I alone am guilty. I know it, and I say it. Lead me in…” (Scene V, Lines 121-22) He acknowledges that the deaths that have occurred are his fault, he is so damaged that he wants to end his own life as well. He then concludes that his all his pride only brought his thoughts to dust.
No one wishes the worse for someone who lost their family, even if it was they who practically cause it. Creon may have not been the best father or uncle but family is still family no what. Sadly, he did not notice that before all the tragedies came crumbling down in a flash. He finally understood the words of advice that Teiresias gave him and the speech his son gave him. Although he was too late, now he is more alone than ever which makes him want to end his own life, “Are there no swords here? Has no one a blow for me?” (Scene V, Lines 1019) This is a horrible thing to do, after so many tragedies that happened to these kings of Thebes, they somehow seemed cursed. The laws of man seem to be the cause of the problems because he had so much pride to follow them that he cared less of the laws of God. It sounds a lot like a curse that may only come from those who anger the Gods. In fact, the messenger states, “ Her curse is upon you for the deaths of both.” (Scene V, Line 1020) Creon seemed to understand that this was his fate and all he could do is accept it.
Creon ends up miserable and alone. He desires for death to give him his punishment immediately. He wishes that he would have listened to the Gods but he did not. His pride was so huge that it took up so much of him that wasted his life with the people he cared about. Creon, after being stubborn actually learned something, “ …. No wisdom but in submission to the gods. Big words are always punished, and proud men in old age learn to be wise.” (Scene V, Lines 1040-42) He did not end his life, but after his bad turn of events he became wise and lived with tragedies he was placed on.
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