Overall I sympathize with Antigone more than I sympathize with her uncle, the king Kreon. Antigone was so determined to do what is right by the gods, and she is willing to die for what she believed in. In regards to Kreon, multiple people died as a result of his actions. Though at the end of the play, Kreon tried to fix his mistakes, but by then the damage was already done and was beyond repair.
In the play Antigone, my sympathy lies with Antigone. In the beginning, we find out that Antigone’s brothers, Polynices and Eteocles, were both killed in battle. The brothers were fighting on opposite sides. Eteocles fought for Thebes and Polynices fought for Argos. Since Polynices fought against his native land Kreon the king of Thebes and his uncle, decreed that he would not have a proper funeral and if anyone disobeys him would be punished with treason and faced with death. This decree goes against the unwritten law of the gods. Antigone was outraged that she was not allowed to give her brother a proper burial, but she was determined and was not going to back down from her beliefs. She was willing to go against the wishes of her uncle (Kreon) and die to get justice for her brother which in turn is doing right by the gods. Antigone states ” I have longer to please the dead than to please the living here” (lines 88-89). This shows that Antigone rather “please” the dead (such as her brother) rather than the living (such as Kreon). She goes on to say that she “will suffer nothing as great as death without glory” (lines 112-113). This quote has multiple meanings. The first meaning has to do with Polynices. If he is not given proper burial rights, he will suffer a “death without glory.” Another meaning has to do with Antigone. If Antigone is sentenced to death for burying her brother, then she will die a “glorious” death because although she disregarded the wishes of the king, she did do right by the gods who will let her die in glory. Antigone was caught in the act of burying her brother and was sentenced to death by Kreon. Little does he know that this action causes more harm than good later in the play.
Though my sympathy does lie with Antigone, my sympathy for her is limited. In the play, Antigone’s passion for doing what is right which eventually leads to her downfall makes her a tragic heroine. Antigone acted the complete opposite of how women “should have” behaved back in Greek times. Kreon’s law about the burial of Polynices was unjust it was still a law that was put into place. So although Antigone was doing the right thing by giving her brother a proper burial by the god’s standards, she still broke the law. Multiple people warned her not to disobey the king’s orders such as her sister Ismene who begs her not defy Kreon. Ismene wants to give her brother a proper burial as much as Antigone wants to but does not dare to defy her uncle due to the severity of the punishment. After Antigone was caught burying her brother the chorus addresses her and says “you went too far, the last limits darling, smashing against the high throne of justice” (lines 943-944). This shows that they have some sympathy for Antigone, but it is limited. Though they do recognize that Antigone’s actions were pure, her actions were also an act to “defy the high throne of justice.” Antigone knew the extent of the punishment and what would happen if she buried her brother against the kings’ wishes and yet she still did it. Since Antigone did break the law, she does deserve to be punished to the full extent no matter if she was doing right by the gods or not.
In the play Antigone, my sympathy does not lie with Kreon. Throughout the play, Kreon was a tyrant who ruled for nobody but himself he proves this when he says “Am I to rule this land for others or myself?” (line 823). Kreon refuses to take in the opinions of others and rather would “rule for himself.” Through the majority of the play, Kreon was selfish when it came and had no morality which is why sympathy should not lie with him. The fact that Kreon had no sympathy for his own family regarding him not allowing his niece to bury her brother (his nephew) shows that he is only in this for himself. Adding to the treatment of family, when Kreon found out that Antigone defied him, he was cruel and sentenced her to death even though she was next in line for the throne. He also threatened to kill Ismene calling her a “viper” for being a “conspirer” in the burial of Polynices, but Antigone refused to let any of the blame to fall on her sister. Kreon’s tragic flaw is his hubris which means “excessive pride or self-confidence.” The prophet Tiresias came to Kreon and warned him about what would happen in the future, and he thought that Tiresias was being paid off. Kreon’s inability to recognize that not everything is about him and unwilling to believe the help that is given him will lead to the death of all his family members.
Kreon deserves some sympathy at the end of the play because his entire family has all committed suicide and he did not realize how much his family meant to him until this moment in the play. Throughout the play, it is proven that Kreon only wants the best for Thebes. Even though he is a cruel leader what he only wanted the best for his kingdom Thebes. He does not tolerate traitors which is why he would not let Polynices have a proper burial. The characters of the play seemingly overlook this reasoning. Kreon claims that “anarchy is the greatest crime on Earth”(line 751-752). Since he believes this he is doing the right thing by not giving him a burial. It also explains why he has to punish Antigone with death. Kreon has to establish his powers and preserve his version of justice. As the play continues, Kreon does not do anything to gain my sympathy until the end of the play. When Kreon finds out that Antigone gave her brother a proper burial is the turning point of the play. Tiresias visits Kreon one last time to warn him that if he kills Antigone, the gods will that Haemon (Kreon’s son) too. Kreon rushes off to correct his mistake but is too late; his son had already killed himself. Eurydice (Kreon’s wife) got the news of her sons passing before Kreon, and she commits suicide too. When Kreon receives the news that all of his family is dead from the messenger, he proclaims “I do not even exist; I am no one. Nothing.” (lines 1445-1446) so he is left a broken man. These lines show that Kreon knows he is responsible for the death of his son and wife and now has to live with the guilt for the rest of his life. The fact that Kreon is talking about wanting to die parallels Antigone’s willingness to die for a burial for her brother. It is hard not to feel sympathy for him at this point because he finally realized the full consequences of his actions and unfortunately it came at the cost of his family.
After weighing out the good and the bad of both characters, my sympathy lies with Antigone. Even though she may have taken things a step too far, her actions were justifiable. On the other hand, for the majority of the play Kreon is a tyrant, so at the end of the play, though his family all committed suicide, it is hard to feel sympathy for him based off of all the unjust rulings he makes throughout the entirety of the play.
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