The Source of Conflict between Antigone and Creon in Sophocles’ “Antigone”
In the following paper, I plan to discuss the source of conflict between the title characters of Antigone and Creon in Sophocles’ “Antigone”. I also plan to discuss how each character justifies his or her actions and what arguments they give for their justifications. I will also write about the strengths and weaknesses of these arguments. The final points I try to make are about who Sophocles thinks is right and who I think is right.
The main source of conflict between Antigone and Creon is the issue of the burial of Antigone’s dead brother. Both of her brothers were killed in battle, however one brother fought against their home city and was considered a traitor. Creon issued a law that whoever tries to bury this man will be put to death. Antigone is very upset because her one brother is graced with all the rites of a hero while the other is disgraced.
Antigone is determined to bury her brother because of her loyalty to her family and to the gods. She believes that no mortal, such as Creon, has the right to keep her from her own. Even if Antigone must die during the burial, she will not disgrace the laws of the gods. She believes that she has to please the dead much longer than she has to please the living.
Creon states, “Whoever places a friend above the good of his own country, he is nothing.” Therefore, he does not allow the burial of Antigone’s brother because he did not place the good of his country first. He was a traitor. Creon makes this law for the good of his country. The following statements that Creon makes exemplify this: “I could never make that man a friend of mine who menaces our country”, “never will the traitor be honored above the patriot.” Creon’s argument is for loyalty to the country and he does not think that the god’s would have any concern about the body of a traitor.
Antigone goes on with the burial of her brother because she claims that Zeus did not make the proclamation, and that a mere mortal cannot override the gods. Her justification for the burial of her brother is that she will not break the laws of the gods. These rules are great unwritten, unshakable traditions and she does not want to face the retribution of the gods. She already knows that she will one day die and she would rather die now than to let her brother rot. Allowing this would be a pain greater than death to her.
Even when Creon discovers that Antigone is the person that defied his proclamation, he still sticks to his word by punishing her to death. If he lets her go, he is not a man, she is. This would be unheard of. Creon states, “No woman is going to lord it over me.” “From now on, they’ll act like women…” after Antigone and her sister get tied up. “I’m not about to prove myself a liar, not to my people, I’m going to kill her.” Creon cannot make a law and then take it back, especially not for a woman. The man the city places in authority must be...