In Sophocles’ “Antigone,” the main character, Antigone, displayed strong determination and loyalty to her family and god. However, I sympathize more with Kreon because he was a man of his words and he refused to break social peace and state laws. Throughout the play, Kreon’s character exemplifies the traits of a tragic hero. Creon was suffering from his actions without knowing that he will be losing everything but the law. Compare to Antigone, Kreon regrets his decision and cannot alternate his past but to live on and suffer from his consequences.
Kreon was a man of his words, trying his best to preserve social peace and ensure his people to follow the state laws. “When the lives of mortals go aright, it is obedience to rule that keeps most bodies safe” (675-676). Pressured by previous cases of treason, Kreon cannot risk allowing more examples of rebellions to threaten the stability of his rule. If he allows one person to break the laws like Antigone, then it will risk the safety of the rest of the people that are living in the kingdom. “There is no greater evil than unruliness. It ruins cities and makes households desolate” (672-673). Antigone’s rebellious behavior challenges Kreon’s authority and forces him to make a decision. Therefore, in order to warn his people to not commit similar rebellious acts in the future, Kreon must heavily punish Antigone and set the punishment as an example.
Kreon’s first flaw arises when he assumes that all of his actions are well justified and fair, while all the other characters like Antigone, Ismene, Haimon, believed that his proclamations were too abusive and cruel. “Do not, then clothe yourself in just one attitude – that what you say, and only what you say is right” (705-706). His tragic flaw of stubbornness hinders his own sense of consideration for others, even for his very own niece, Antigone. Kreon reveals his second flaw when he asserts dominance over Antigone. He displays an abuse of power due to his societal position as a king and as a male, believing that he has the power to determine Antigone’s faith. Kreon’s last flaw was hypocrisy. Throughout the play, the king reinforces the importance of obeying laws, yet, Kreon, himself, was also not following the laws of the gods. He utilizes his excessive dignity to explain that he can break god’s laws but no one can break a king’s laws.
Aside from his flaws, Kreon’s character did demonstrate worthy traits. Kreon showed no bias when facing his own family members. Even though Antigone was his niece, Kreon did not hesitate to minimize her punishment or forgive her behavior. Beyond the relationship of uncle and niece, Antigone was also Haimon’s fiancée. Haimon visited his father to beg for Antigone to be released, but Kreon refuses to weaken his determination and explained to his son that this was for his own good.
Even though Kreon demonstrated many tragic flaws, I continue to sympathize with Kreon over Antigone because he had to live the remainder of his life with regrets and the pain of losing family members due to his own choices. “If it is lawful to say so, his doom was not caused by any outsider – he did wrong himself” (1259-1261). He cannot blame anyone else because it was his own actions that lead to the downfall of this tragedy. Creon started off the play as the new king of Thebes and ended off as a mistreating king that destroyed his own family. He had lost more than what was given. “Nowhere can I lean for support. All in my hands is warped, and from outside a crushing destiny has leapt down on my head” (1343-1348) Kreon had lost his family, his stability of ruling, and his own sense of self-pride, the faith in making any decisions. The sudden collapse of falling from being a respected king to being a hopeless man evokes my inner sympathetic emotions for him. The story implies that even Kreon, a king, the one with the highest authority, can fail and flounder through so much agony. As a king, Kreon’s duty of law was to preserve social order and justice in his kingdom. As a father and a husband, Kreon’s duty was to choose the right woman for his son and make sure that his son is happy. He was just searching the best for Haimon. But it was already too late when Kreon figure out that his actions did not help at all. He is now a worthless man because he had both let down the rule of a noble king and lost the role of a reliable father and husband.
Similar to Kreon, Antigone also suffered consequences from her actions. However, I do not sympathize with Antigone because she was determined about her decisions and held no regrets before her death. Antigone accomplished her job as a sister and her job as a god’s follower. She felt righteous to perform these tasks without any hesitation. “I know that I am pleasing those I should please most” (89). Antigone’s strong sense of determination lessens my sympathy for her because she acknowledges her actions and behaves with certainty. Even knowing that the ending result leads to heavy punishment, Antigone did not stop what she wanted to do. Antigone could have avoided punishments if she chooses not to bury her brother. Therefore, my pity for her decrease because she knew her upcoming consequences and continues to perform her act. “If this is viewed among the gods as something fine, I’ll find out, after suffering, that I was wrong; but if these men are wrong, may what they suffer to be as evil as the unjust they do to me” (925-928). In the end, Antigone was the one who took her own life. She did not allow others to control her because she believed that what she had done was right. Just like Kreon, Antigone also let her own stubbornness took over and decide for her.
In conclusion, my pity for Kreon is higher than for Antigone because although Antigone had lost her family, she is no longer suffering because she had accomplished her duties and left without any regrets. On the other hand, Kreon, who also lost his family had to live with the pain of losing loved ones and the pain of making bad decisions. The start of the punishment of Antigone marks the beginning of a chain of reactions that eventually influence Kreon to be the tragic character he is.