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