Classics - Dilemmas

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In Sophocles’ Theban Play ‘Antigone’, Creon is faced with a dilemma when he is talking to Teireisias, the blind prophet. Teireisias confronts Creon on his decision of condemning Antigone. At this part of the play, Creon questioning of his decision on whether to condemn Antigone or not, becomes apparent.

The reason for Creon having to face this dilemma comes from Antigone’s brothers, Polynices and Etocles “Each slain by the other’s hand”. Etocles is given a proper burial, described as he “Is to be honoured with burial and all the rites due to the noble dead”. Polynices is not given a burial because he is considered as a “Traitor … attacking his country”. Creon decides that “He is to have no grave, no burial, no morning, from anyone; it is forbidden”. Antigone, being the strong headed woman that she is, is determined to bury her brother. She proclaims “I will bury my brother and if I die for it, what happiness!” Creon discovers that Antigone broke his law and is sure on his decision to have her killed, until he is confronted by Teireisias.

When Creon discovers that Antigone is the one to bury Polynices, Creon is sure of his decision to have her condemned. Creon’s strong characteristics cause his decision. One of these characteristics is his tyrannical way. Creon rules as a tyrant. Creon displays this characteristic throughout the play by the way he governs Thebes. I believe that he governs as a tyrant because he feels that he has to prove himself to the Theban citizens. Creon is only appointed as King not because he is wanted as king but because he is the only option for King, due to Oedipus’, Polynices’ and Etocles’ deaths. Creon has to rule cruelly, strictly, insist on being obeyed and hold his power through intimidation in order to be respected as the King of Thebes. This characteristic identifies Creon’s dilemma when he states “He whom the State appoints must be obeyed to the smallest matter be it right- or wrong”. This quote shows that Creon demands that he must be obeyed, not caring whether he is right or wrong. This applies to his belief in forbidding Antigone to bury Polynices. Creon cannot control Antigone because of her strong headedness. In order to control her, Creon brings out his tyrannical characteristics and uses intimidation to hold his power. Creon threatens Antigone “Go then and share your love among the dead”. This characteristic portrays Creon as a tyrant. By ruling this way he believes that Antigone should be condemned.

Creon bears the characteristic of being a strong, fair leader. This characteristic aids Creon in solving his dilemma. Creon does not want to look weak to the citizens of Thebes and “Therefore I hold to the law, and will never betray it”. Creon refuses Polynices’ burial because he is a traitor to the city. Even though he is family, Creon places the cities needs and wants before his own. He could be seen as being selfless as he respects that by being King he has to place his emotions aside and deal with the facts. Creon makes the decision to condemn Antigone because she broke the law. If it were any other regular citizen of Thebes, the same punishment would apply. Antigone admitted that she knew she was breaking the law “I knew it, naturally. It was plain enough”. King Creon must be fair and not let Antigone get away with her actions just because she is family. In today’s world celebrities are treated just like everyone in the court of law. Just because they are famous does not mean they can do whatever they want. This applies for Antigone. By Creon being a strong, fair leader this aids him in solving his dilemma.

Creon proves to have the characteristic of being stubborn in the play Antigone. This stubbornness aids Creon in solving his dilemma. Creon believes that he is right and does not accept advice from others. When Haemon tries to convince his father that condemning Antigone is the wrong thing to do, Creon does not take any of his advice...
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