In Sophocles’ Antigone, neither Antigone’s nor Kreon’s actions are truly defined as purely admirable or moralistically sound. However, Antigone, the tragic heroine, embodies the idea of truly fighting for what she believes to be socially acceptable, which is indeed treating the dead with the upmost respect. Despite the potential dangers that may arise as Antigone fights for her brother, Polyneices, to have a proper burial, her stubborn front and unfailing determination yield her to not give up against the coarse Kreon. Being a woman in modern day society who experiences certain repressions upheld by the patriarchy, Antigone’s fate at the end of the play was inspiring through her loyal actions and unwavering dedication to a higher justice. In contrast, similar to men today, Kreon exerted his power in a more unjust manner, instilling a sense of anger within me towards his actions and unfair treatment of Antigone.
Antigone is a woman who stared deep into the unjust eyes of her oppressor, Kreon, and refused to give up the battle of laying her brother’s body to rest respectfully. Despite all odds set against her, her faithful persona and resilient commitment pushed her to continue fighting for what she believed to be morally correct. In the play, Kreon orders Polyneices’ lifeless body be left above ground and to be feasted on by various rodents, going against the rules set in place by the Gods. However, Antigone did not agree with Kreon’s orders and decided to steal her brother’s corpse and bury it respectfully herself. After being caught in the act of burial by a guard and Kreon, instead of denying the accusations, Antigone took full responsibility, “I don’t deny it; I admit the deed was mine,” (443) refusing to give up the unrightful battle against Kreon and showcasing her bravery. Antigone’s loyalty towards her brother and strong-willed persona shine through as she continues to unwaveringly fight for what she believes to be morally correct, which is refusing to back down from the repressions upheld by the patriarchy. After Antigone was sent away to a cave to be punished for her actions, her sister Ismene admits to assisting Antigone perform the burial of their brother, “I did the deed-if she will join in saying so. I shared in bearing the responsibility” (536-537). Antigone would not allow anyone else to be held responsible for what she dauntlessly did, especially her sister. Antigone fought hard for what she believes to be morally correct and does not need anyone to pretend to care or fight for the ideals she holds to be true, “Justice will not allow this, since you did not want to do it, nor did I give you a share in it” (538-539). The strength instilled within Antigone to continue fighting against the unruly Kreon personally evoked feelings of both satisfaction and pride in being a woman. Antigone would not allow any obstacle, whether it be physical or mental, to stand in her way of accomplishing what she believes to be morally sound. Being a woman who faces the repression of men in modern day society, Antigone’s fate was uplifting as it showcased her unwavering sense of determination and faithfulness towards both her family and the law. Her fate at the end of the play, as unfair as it was, instilled feelings within me of both honor and glory in being a woman.
Kreon, king of Thebes, is an unjust ruler who possesses a narrow mindset and believes Polyneices betrayed him and is unworthy of a proper burial. Kreon is a coarse stubborn man who allows power to go to his head, forcing him to make irrational decisions and go against the rules set in place by the Gods about treating the dead in a respectful manner. As Kreon’s pride and selfishness begin to cloud his judgement, his morals begin to stray, and he starts to treat his family, both dead and alive, in a harmful and unjustifiable manner. After Kreon uncovers the truth about Antigone attempting to perform a proper burial to her brother, Polyneices, he begins to unleash his true character of an unjust leader and unfaithful family man by sentencing Antigone to death in a cave. Kreon’s abundance of pride forces him to ignore the inputs of his followers, including his son, as his hunger for power has become more important than his desire to satisfy his people. Although Kreon believes he is doing the right thing for his city by continuing to abide by the laws, he selfishly sends Antigone away to “a covered tomb [embracing] her, as I said; then [leaving] her there alone, deserted, whether she desires to die or live entombed beneath that kind of roof” (886-888). During this scene, feelings of anger were evoked as Kreon exerted unfair treatment of Antigone for simply following the rules set in place by the Gods. Kreon’s tragic flaws and hubris prove that he is an insufficient leader which ultimately result in his catastrophic downfall. It is not until the end of the play that Kreon uncovers the truth that he is the sole reason why his niece Antigone, son Haemon, and wife Eurydice, have all ended their lives. Kreon was unable to see how his harsh actions towards Antigone drove everything positive out of his life and it took the death of three family members to realize the cruelty he bestowed on his city was solely his own wrongdoing, “Ah wretched me! I see this second evil! What destiny, what still awaits me?” (1295-1296). Kreon’s harsh actions and words to both Antigone and Haemon and his ability to put the power of state over his own family forced me to acquire a strong sense of anger and loathe towards him. An individual who believes he is above the God’s laws, such as some men do in modern day society, deserve to suffer not physically, but rather emotionally. Kreon’s fate at the end of the play, after he has lost all of his loved ones and respect from his followers, reflects his inability to properly lead as king of Thebes, showcasing how harmful and self-centered he is. The feelings his fate evoked were feelings of hatred and disgust towards a man who believes his ideals are above the highest power, as well as his way of unlawfully treating women who fight for what they believe to be morally correct.
Although actions performed by both Kreon and Antigone do not embody the true definition of commendable or perfectly virtuous, Antigone, the tragic heroine, encompasses an individual who continues to fight for what she believes to be morally acceptable. Antigone wished for her brother, Polyneices, to have a proper burial, yet Kreon, the ill-mannered king of Thebes, viewed his actions as nothing more than betrayal and chose to leave his body above ground. Being a woman who has to endure the harsh repressions upheld by the patriarchy, similar to Antigone, her fate at the end of the play was truly inspiring as it showcased her determination and loyalty to her family and the law. However, Kreon’s unjustly actions towards Antigone forced me to acquire a sense of anger and loathe towards him as his harsh actions to women mirror those of some men in society today. Although Antigone did not completely follow the rules, her inability to back down from any obstacle or allow anyone else to falsely share the blame with her is both courageous and motivating, evoking feelings of both pride and honor in being a woman.