Sophocles put a lot of layers of meaning in all his works. For ancient Greeks these great tragedies were not only an entertainment, but also possessed a lot of philosophical meaning which made people think about many different problems. When reading Sophocles’ play “Antigone” we get into difficult life situation together with main characters, think about their choices and possible consequences of their mistakes.
We can see two different systems of beliefs, two different worlds presented by two main characters – Creon and Antigone. Creon is a carrier of the state power; he expresses obedience to his fate and obedience to the state laws. He is driven by the burden of responsibilities put on him by his high position. We see that he is ready to forget about his feelings and emotions in order to perform his duties. “Kings, my girl, have other things to do than to surrender themselves to their private feelings (Sophocles, 42)” he says to Antigone during their talk. Antigone is a complete antipode of Creon.
She is lively, impulsive, enthusiastic and counts on her feelings and emotions. She can break the limits of the state laws and even doesn’t feel guilty for that. “I didn’t say “yes”. I can say no to anything I think vile, and I don’t have to count the cost. But because you said yes, all that you can do, for all your crown and trappings, and your guards- all that you can do is to have me killed (Sophocles, 45).” She is driven by completely different motives and her inner truth is more important to her than formal laws and regulations. It seems that everything separates them but the situation turns to be quite different if we look from another perspective. We can find a lot of things, which unite them if we look dipper than just the surface of the play. Creon and Antigone don’t seem so different if we study their personalities better. They both are stubborn; they both are directed by their goals and don’t want to step aside. They have different values and look for different things in life but both are ready to sacrifices their lives for the sake of these values. Creon recognizes himself in young and passionate Antigone. “Don’t think me fatuous if I say that I understand you; and that at your age I should have done the same thing. A moment ago, when we were quarreling, you said I was drinking in your words. I was. But it wasn’t you I was listening to; it was a lad named Creon…he was thin and pale, as you are. His mind too was filled with thoughts of self-sacrifice (Sophocles, 50).” He knows that they are alike, were alike if to be precise. But the burden of state responsibilities has changed his thoughts and deadened his feelings. His ideals were replaced by the obedience to laws and higher power but his stubbornness and wish to fight for his ideals w still the same. This is the thing, which made Creon alike with Antigone. Another thing, which seems alike in them is their thoughtless attitude to other people. Antigone breaks easily with her beloved sister when she refuses to help her. She didn’t forgive her even when Ismene came to prison and wanted to shares Antigone’s guilt. Same did Creon, when refused to listed to the advice of his old and loyal friend Polyneices. Both, Antigone and Creon could sacrifices their dear people and just forget about them in the fight for their ideals. Both, Creon and Antigone have their own moral standards and live according to them.
Sophocles: The Complete Greek Tragedies. Edited by David Grene. 2 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1954-57.
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