Conflicting Values in Antigone


In the play "Antigone" by Sophocles, Creon and Antigone have 
distinct conflicting values. Creon's regard for the laws of the city 
causes him to abandon all other beliefs. He feels that all should obey 
the laws set forth by him, even if other beliefs, moral or religious, 
state otherwise. Antigone, on the other hand, hold the beliefs of the 
gods in high reverence. She feels that the laws of the gods should be 
obeyed above all others, especially when in respect to family. Creon 
has a very strong opinion about the laws of the city and the laws 
passed by him. His method of enforcing them is very strict. In 
"Antigone" Creon orders that Polyneices will not be buried because of 
his dishonor towards Thebes. Furthermore, if anyone is caught burying 
him they will be killed for disobeying his order. Polonieces is 
Antigone's brother. He is being punished because he attacked Thebes 
and betrayed Creon and the people of Thebes. Creon's harsh punishment 
on those who disobey the law makes many fear him and dare not to go 
against him. One example is Ismene's regard for Creon's laws. She 
tries to talk her sister out of burying her brother because of what 
could happen to her if Creon found out that she went against him. 
Ismene says "We must obey them.....I yield to those who have 
authority"(5). Not only do the people of Thebes obey the laws of the 
city because of their fear but because it is a shame to dishonor the 
king. To go against the kings claim and dishonor the law is to die a 
more shameful death then Antigone's mother and father(59-60). Antigone 
does not want to let her brother be left without a proper burial. Her
belief is to show respect and love towards her brother she must bury 
him. Her beliefs in "The sacred laws that Heaven holds in honor" are 
far more important than those set by the king(Antigone 78). She feels 
that the king cannot override her belief in the gods. Antigone feels 
very strongly about burying her brother against Creon's orders. She 
refused to back down from her opinion even when confronted by the king 
and sentenced to death. Antigone reasoning is: "It was not Zeus who 
published this decree,Nor have the powers who rule among the dead 
Imposed such laws as this upon mankind; Nor could I think that a
decree of yours- A man-could override the laws of Heaven Unwritten and 
unchanged"(450-455). She goes on to say that she does not want to go 
before the gods after she had disobeyed them because of a decree made 
by a mortal king(458-459). The loss of a brother is greater to 
Antigone then the lose of any other kind. She says, "For had I lost a 
son, or lost a husband, Never would I have ventured such an act 
Against the city's will. And wherefore so? My husband dead, I might 
have found another; Another son from him if I had lost A son. But 
since my mother and father Have both gone to the grave, there can be
none Henceforth that I can ever call my brother"(907-914). To Antigone 
this is another reason to honor her brother; as she honors her brother 
she is honoring her mother and father as well. Creon, being a new 
king, wants to prove his abilities as king.He is being harsh, so the 
people of Thebes don't take him for an easy king and other problems 
arise. Creon feels that if someone dishonors the city in which he 
rules they must be punished. If Polyneices is not punished then 
Creon's power may be taken for granted by the people of Thebes. They 
would think of him as a weak king who can be dishonored without fear 
of punishment. Creon wants to be respected and feared as a king 
because this will give him more power. He does not want to be a bad 
king, using his power for evil things, but a strong king. However in 
order to be a strong king, one must be strict and firm in one's 
decisions. That is the kind of king that Creon is. Creon is a strong 
king because Thebes is important to him. He wants to be respected. He 
also wants Thebes to be a great city. Antigone and Creon have 
different ideas of what is right and what is wrong. However one cannot 
say who is right and who is wrong, that would be a matter of opinion. 
Both Antigone and Creon have their reasons for their actions. Antigone 
has the laws of heaven as well as her family in mind; on the other 
hand, Creon's concern is his city and its greatness. 


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