Upon currently taking a college course based upon what the good life consists of, Sophocles Antigone offers a new perspective that helps students gain a much better understanding of how others share a different view of what the good life may be. The play offers a multitude of situations, which allows for perfect opportunities to relate the playr’s content to the class itself. In the first act, the audience is introduced to the characters Antigone and Kreon, who share separate moral and ethical views. Once analyzing the play, between Antigone and Kreon, Antigone is the most sympathetic character. Antigone is the most sympathetic character because she knew her original ambition and stayed on her own path, despite warnings and other characters attempts to steer her in another direction. It is also revealed later in the play that Kreonr’s actions are the reason that many lives (including Antigone) had ended in misfortune, which is yet another reason that it is easier to sympathize more with Antigone rather than Kreon. Kreonr’s ambitions are also shown throughout the play, and although Kreon had shown good morals towards the conclusion of the play, it was much too late.
The morals of a character is one of the main factors the audience uses to determine the type of person they are, whether it may be leaning towards good or bad. In the beginning of Antigone, Antigoner’s ambition is shown clearly in which she wants to help her brothers. Although it is not known who these brothers are yet, it is given that they are in imminent danger and Antigone wants to help. Actions like the one shown in the very beginning with Anitgone explaining to Ismene You must decide whether you will help me or not (Sophocles 29) is a strong example of good morals, which gives Antigone more sympathy.
To the audience, this line is a person asking another person for help to do something that they believe is good. It is true that just because that person believes so does not mean it is necessarily true, however, it is a quality of a sympathetic person. Another quality of a sympathetic person is doing what one believes is right, even whether others believe it is wrong. Antigone faced this situation with Ismene, who spends a reasonable amount of time convincing Antigone how much of a bad idea it is to go through with Antigoner’s ambition (16-51), due to the consequences being faced if Kreon were to find out.
However, with Antigoner’s mind already made up, she decides to go through with her task. Kreon also does this later in the play, but what makes Kreonr’s situation different is that Kreonr’s decisions were made with negative intentions. Kreonr’s belief is that the person Antigone was aiming to bury, Polyneices, is not a good person. This results in a declaration that Polyneices is not allowed to be buried, something that Antigone does not agree with. The audience can sympathize more with Antigone in comparison to Kreon, since the person in question is Antigoner’s brother.
One crucial piece of information personally gained while taking this course is that doing something that others may not encourage may have justified reasoning as long as it is done with good intentions. This does not apply to all situations, but it is shown in countless examples throughout many reading pieces. For example, in Hermann Hesser’s Siddhartha, Siddhartha chooses to take the journey seeking enlightenment, despite not receiving support from his father and best friend. Siddharthar’s intentions were clear, and did not mean to cause harm to others. It is up to the audience to determine if a character deserves sympathy, whether it may be Siddhartha or Antigone, however Antigoner’s intentions were not harmful as well. Both of these characters perspective of the good life and what it consists of can be used towards oner’s own version of the good life, along with morals and ethics. Antigoner’s sympathy is drawn from her morals, which have shown to be positive in the play thus far.
Although Antigone is easier to sympathize with, that is not to say that Kreon does not deserve any amount of sympathy. Both Kreon and Antigone held positive and negative attributes. As shown in Line 351, Antigone admits to the burial even though Antigone knew it was against the law. This gives Antigone less credibility, since there could have been better possible options. From Kreonr’s perspective, he is a ruler, and believes that he must do what is best to protect Thebes. Although this is shows good ethic from Kreon, this does not justify any of Kreonr’s actions or validate that he is morally a good person. Despite the positive and negatives from both Kreon and Antigone, what makes Antigone receive more sympathy is the permanent decision that Kreon makes based upon temporary feelings.
This one action by Kreon led to a series of misfortunate events, which also causes the audience to take away any sort of sympathy they may have towards Kreon thus far in the play. Although Antigoner’s action is nonviolent, Kreonr’s anger leads him to lock away Antigone in Line 710. Kreonr’s anger towards Polyneices is translated through that one action, ultimately leading to three deaths. Antigone defends herself when confronted by Kreon, but Kreon does not listen despite Ismene and the Chorus pleads.
Having an open mind is a characteristic of a person who not only has good morals, but is worth sympathizing. In the very beginning, when Ismene pleaded for Antigone not to go through with the burial, Antigone had listened to what Ismene had to say. The difference between Antigoner’s and Kreonr’s reaction to those who are opposed to either one of their actions, is that Antigone took into consideration to what the opposing side (Ismene) had to say; which is shown through Antigone responding to Ismene with That must be your excuse, I suppose. But as for me (62).
Kreonr’s decision to lock Antigone away also lead to not only the death of Antigone, but also the death of his son and the fiance of Antigone (920-930). Kreon made a decision without realizing the impact that it may have on people, while in contrast, Antigone knew the impact that her decision would have of the burial. It is arguable that if Antigone had never went through with her original ambitions that the deaths would not have happened in the first place. However, Kreonr’s decision was changed at a moment that was much too late. This is a major turning point for Kreon in the play, and Kreon gains back sympathy from the audience once he begins to realize the consequences of his actions.
Antigone ends with Kreon realizing the misfortune he must endure due to one single action that he made. Kreon did not take other perspectives into consideration, and used the temporary anger he had towards Polyneices to make a permanent decision towards Antigone. This leaves the audience with gained perspective, as well as a look on how both Kreon and Antigone tried to achieve their own version of the good life. The audience can then apply the sympathy they gained towards these two characters to their personal versions of a good life.
Both Antigone and Kreon have experienced plenty of misfortune, however, Antigone is the most sympathetic character of the two. Antigone and Kreon had different versions of what they though was right and wrong, however, their ambitions show their true character. Kreonr’s ambition was to get avenge the mistakes Polyneices, while Antigone had merely intended to save Polyneices from death.
When taken into account that not only did Kreonr’s one action result in a series of misfortune, but Antigoner’s good ethics and ambition overpower Kreonr’s as well. If Kreon had chosen a different course of action such as sympathizing with Antigone, the misfortunes could have been avoided. However, that was not the case, but fortunately that allows the audience to learn from both Antigone and Kreonr’s flaws and weaknesses and apply that to their own lives. It is still just as important that the audience recognizes the sympathy Antigone deserved instead of the sympathy that Kreon could have received.
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