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Two Tragic Heroes? Compare And Contrast How Sophocles Presents The Characters Of Creon And Antigone.

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One of the finest Greek philosophers of his time, Sophocles's plays are still alive today. Antigone, written in around 441 BC, contains universal themes such as suicide, marriage, power and man against the state, which is still relevant today. The two protagonists of the play, Antigone and king of Thebes Creon, can be interpreted as two very similar characters with very diverse values. Their role in the play is also quite divergent and through use of dramatic devices, diction, contrast, and imagery Sophocles accentuates the similarities in character yet a clash in values Antigone and Creon, thus potentially creating two tragic heroes.

In order to assess whether or not both are tragic characters, initially it's imperative to analyze their conflictive values. Creons character attaches importance to the state and his own law rather than anything else, whereas Antigones appears to put family first and foremost. Sophocles' use of soliloquy accentuates this:

Antigone: He is my brother and- deny it a you will-

your brother too.

No one will ever convict me for a traitor.

Conversely, Creon has very different ideals:

Creon: And whoever places a friend

above the good of his own country, he is nothing...

These quotes clearly highlight the distorted values Sophocles assigned Creon, who, as can be deduced from his words, is extremely power hungry and insensitive, whereas Antigone is perhaps ruled by her rebellious nature to oppose Creon completely. A confliction of these two values can be named a tragedy, therefore can the two heroes be called 'tragic'. This can also link back to the major theme of man-against the state, where Antigone goes against Creon because of diverse beliefs.

Nevertheless, in order to have two tragic characters it is crucial to assess whether they possess similar traits. Seemingly, Sophocles gave Creon and Antigone alike characters, emphasized through use of diction. For example both are very stubborn and seek glory:

Antigone: But leave me to my own absurdity...I will suffer

nothing as great as death without glory.

Where similarly Creon argues the wise prophet Tiresias:

Creon: This slander of yours-

Are you aware you're speaking to the king?

In both cases the diction used emphasizes the stubbornness of the two. 'My own absurdity' suggests that even though Antigone might admit to being irrational, she is too stubborn to change her mind and likewise Creon names Tiresias' prophecy 'slander', just because he is the 'king'. Similarly this suggests that even though he knows Tiresias may be right, he will not listen because he is king. More so, this also accentuates the similar motives of Creon and Antigone, where perhaps Antigone desires glory from going against Creon and Creon differentiates himself from Tiresias to establish his position of glory and power. Conceivably, Sophocles uses this to criticize the politics of the time.

Furthermore, throughout the play, both characters defy laws. Nevertheless, the contrast is in the kind of laws they defy. Sophocles uses vivid imagery to illustrate the disparate laws Creon and Antigone choose to defy.

Creon: Certain citizens...grumbling against me in the dark...never keeping their necks beneath the yoke

The image Sophocles uses of grumbling against Creon in the dark suggests that Creon is talking about Antigone, and consequently it can be interpreted that the laws Antigone chooses to break are Creon's laws, not those



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