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The Peculiar Relation of Creon With the Underworld

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Timur Karimov The Peculiar Relation of Creon With the Underworld Timur Karimov English HL Works in Translation Word Count: 1358 ________________ In the Greek tragic play Antigone written by Sophocles, The king of Thebes, Creon does not feel confident despite seemingly unlimited power. He publicly announces his decision to capitally punish an offender of his order. The sole offender, Antigone, Polynices? sister, is caught and brought to him for judgment. Nevertheless, she behaves provocatively, yet Creon hesitates to bring her to death. He is building his arguments in conversations with Antigone, the chorus and his son Haemon as if he is not sure that he is right, or does not have enough authority to do it, or both. At one moment, driven by rage, Creon wants to execute Antigone in the presence of his son, but later withdraws his intention. His decision to bury Antigone alive is not only contentious and awkward, but also incomplete and potentially reversible. Creon gives the impression that he wants to offer Antigone a choice. Why does he do it and why is he so controversial in his attitude to Antigone?s punishment? This essay uncovers the weaknesses of his character that explains his behavior. Creon?s inconsistent attitude towards death and burial reveals a controversial and a vulnerable character hidden under the mask of an autocratic ruler. ...read more.


When Haemon exits the stage, Creon crafts Antigone a bizarre punishment to ?wall her up alive/in a rocky vault, and set out short rations??[5] Such penalty looks incomplete and potentially reversible. It is odd to see a king undo his decision in a matter of minutes. Creon is however not without a reason: simultaneously, he releases Antigone?s sister, Ismene, ?the one whose hands are clean?.[6] There must be a reason for Creon?s awkward change of course. He seems to be torn between the demands of his king?s duties and his increasing indecisiveness. There is powerful symbolism present in his act: Creon has prior ordered that the dead body of a traitor Polynices be left unburied and has now arranged the entombment of Antigone alive. Creon appears here as a weak and controversial character and the author provides further evidence of this when Antigone is taken to her custody. Parting with Antigone, Creon in a few lines reveals the ultimate reason for his perverse verdict. In this act, his orders are finally served. Polynices lies bare in the heat with no one left to bury him; Antigone is walled in her tomb; the Chorus is supportive as ever. What else would Creon want? As he openly says for himself, ?[Creon?s] hands are clean?.[7] Creon did not execute Antigone, moreover he left her a precarious choice ? ?death or buried life with a good roof for shelter?.[8] Creon?s actions reveal that he left the choice for himself instead: to reconsider. ...read more.


Creon is torn between his duties of a king and his calculated desire to keep his hands clean. However, in politics, especially when dealing with human life and death, hands often get dirty. Weak and hesitant Creon is not ready to rise to the occasion and to reverse his decisions. Unable at first to bury Polynices and then to release Antigone, Creon shows early signs of hesitation and controversy. By keeping one dead body exposed and entombing another live person with food rations, Creon challenges ancient laws and plots a dramatic background for his personal ruin. The forces of destiny are set into motion and Creon finally breaks under their pressure ? too late for him and for other characters. By attempting to return the dead to earth and the live to the daylight, Creon demonstrates the weakness of his character hidden behind his mask of a firm and stubborn ruler. ________________ [1] Sophocles. The Three Theban Plays. Trans by Robert Fagles, (New York: Penguin Books, 1984), page 82, line 504 [2] Sophocles. The Three Theban Plays. Trans by Robert Fagles, (New York: Penguin Books, 1984), page 112, line 1152-1153 [3] Ibid., page 93, line 730 [4] Ibid., page 99, line 854 [5] Ibid., page 100, line 871-872 [6] Ibid., page 100, line 867 [7] Ibid., page 104, line 975 [8] Ibid., page 104, line 974 [9] Ibid., page 82, line 515-516 [10] Ibid., page 116, line 1219 [11] Ibid., page 116, line 1224-1225 ...read more.

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