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'Both Antigone and Creon deserve our sympathy'. Discuss.

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Introduction

Elena Solaro 12E 'Both Antigone and Creon deserve our sympathy'. Discuss In his tragic play 'Antigone', Sophocles presents the audience with a variety of interesting protagonists. One of the main characters is Creon, regent of Thebes and brother in law of former king, Oedipus. Another important character is Oedipus' daughter/sister, and Creon's niece, Antigone. She is a character for whom the audience will undoubtedly have great sympathy, and even more so as her tragic fate unfolds over the course of the play. Indeed, the same could be said of Creon, although perhaps initially, we do not feel so well disposed towards him. However, the audience may have greatly mixed views on these characters as different events occur in the play, and as such we can neither completely condemn nor praise their actions. Antigone's traumatic background and troubled past induces pity within the audience right from the beginning of the play. By a tragic and unfortunate series of events she and her siblings came to learn that their father Oedipus was also their brother. These terrible circumstances rendered Oedipus' children outcasts in society, destined to live a life of misery and disgrace. suffering at the hands of fathers misguided actions, not their own. The fact that Antigone's suffering was at the hands of another's misguided actions and not her own fills us with pity for her. When, in her opening speech she says "There's nothing, no pain-our lives are pain-no private shame, no public disgrace, nothing I haven't seen in your griefs and mine", we feel immense sorrow for her. Also, the fact that there was nothing she could have done to avoid her destiny seems cruel and unjust, deepening our sympathy for Antigone, who is truly the tragic heroine. ...read more.

Middle

She says: "I'd never welcome you in the labour, not with me. So do as you like-whatever suits you best." This hot-headed response makes Antigone a far less favourable character in the audience's eyes, particularly considering Ismene's genuine anxiety and care for her sister. Similarly, when Antigone says "I'll hate you all the more for you're silence" we feel her contempt is unreasonable and unmerited. Even when the crime has been discovered, Ismene remains faithful to her sister and implores Antigone to let her "share the guilt and the consequence". This makes us all the more astonished at Antigone's fierce reply: "Who did the work? Let the dead and the god of death bear witness! I have no love for a friend who loves in words alone." When we consider that Ismene is totally innocent, and yet prepared to sacrifice her own life for her sister, Antigone's abusive behaviour seems ruthless and unacceptable. We can find no sympathy for such malicious conduct and blind obstinacy. Like Antigone, another character who arouses a mixture of emotions within the audience is Creon. In some instances we feel empathy for him, and are in accordance with his actions, whilst in others we find his behaviour far from laudable. Despite her troubled past and unnatural parentage, Creon has promised Antigone in marriage to his own son, Haemon. This was a magnanimous decision on his part, particularly considering the disadvantage Oedipus' female children would find themselves at in acquiring a husband. Indeed, Oedipus himself said that no man would ever want to marry them for the shame and disgrace he had brought upon their heads. ...read more.

Conclusion

In fact, an argument ensues, in which Creon calls Haemon "you degenerate". We feel Creon is very foolish in ignoring his son's advice, particularly seen as Haemon acts as the voice of public opinion. The audience at this point have no sympathy for Creon and would gladly see him punished for his misdemeanours. When the chorus leader dares to suggest that the burial may have been a token act of the gods, Creon is furious. Although he believed himself to have been doing the gods a favour in punishing Polynices, in reality his actions were arrogant and egotistical. He has overstepped the mark in thinking he can act as an equal to the gods, who regard it as their duty to punish the perpetrators of sacrilege. Not only this, but in priding himself on being a man who abides by the laws of state, he has forgotten that he is breaking the unwritten laws of the gods. It was also the custom and tradition of Thebes to bury traitors outside of the city walls. In conclusion, I would say that both Antigone and Creon deserve our pity, however, not in equal amounts. Overall, I felt Antigone to be the more deserving character. Although at times she is capricious and hot tempered, it was her love for her family and a respect for the gods that drove her to carry out her crime. Creon, in contrast shows none of this love. He initially believes that money was the sole reason for the crime, never suspecting that it might have been committed for a different motive. He shows himself to be cold and heartless, turning on the members of his family and severing the bonds of kinship with ease. ...read more.

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