Oedipus vs. Creon

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One City; Two Corrupt Leaders
In the plays Oedipus Rex and Antigone by Sophocles, Oedipus and Creon exert similar characteristics as leaders that ultimately result in their characterization as tragic heroes. They take a similar course throughout their stories, which leads to a similar fate, resulting in tragedy. Both characters tried to revive a city in need, but in the process, the hubris they possessed got in the way. Both men had the chance to see that their actions would lead to a tragic ending, but neither one could see around their pride. Because of their tragic flaws, these two rulers caused great pain to themselves, their family and the people of Thebes. Although Oedipus and Creon ruled over Thebes at different times, the truth is that they both are similarly defined by their tragic actions because of their overbearing determination, uncontrollable fate, and enormous grievances.

With the intentions of making Thebes a better city, Oedipus and Creon both set laws they thought would help the people, but they both made themselves blind to their own fates and sped their demise. When Oedipus began his reign, Thebes was suffering from the plague, and to ensure the happiness of his city, Oedipus promised the people of Thebes that he would find the person who killed the king Laius and exile them, so that the gods would restore health to the city. When he does this, he is unaware that he himself killed the king, who also happened to be his father. Oedipus spends much of the play searching for this so-called murderer and does not realize that his determination to find them is only hurting himself. In the opening scene of Antigone, Creon decided that a “traitor” does not deserve a proper burial even what that traitor is his own blood. He then announced that anyone caught burying Polynices, will be publically stoned to death. Later on, Creon got news that someone had tried to bury Polynices. This person was Antigone. Creon needed to keep control over the people of Thebes, and if he let Antigone go, he would be showing weakness. If he did not put Antigone to death, he could never expect his people to respect him as a leader. Creon’s determination to keep power blinded him from seeing his own fate, just as Oedipus had done. Creon never figured out that by putting Antigone to death, he would also be killing his son and his wife. Neither Oedipus nor Creon wants to show that they are weak leaders so they ironically empower their tragic flaws with what they think is right. Both characters’ overbearing determination caused them to take actions that would ultimately hurt the ones they were trying to protect. Even if they had taken a moment to look at what they were doing, neither leader could have done anything due to the fates they were meant to endure.

Tiresias, a blind prophet, visited both Oedipus and Creon, and played a key part in the fate of both men. Oedipus sees Tiresias and is given news that angers him. Like the prophecy said, he had been raised by two people that were not his real parents, he had murdered his father, and he had married his mother. Oedipus did not want to believe this, but no matter how many times he denied it, his fate was inevitable and everything that Tiresias had said was true. Creon also sees Tiresias and reacts the same way that Oedipus did. Tiresias tells Creon that because of his dreadful actions, he will have to pay with his own flesh. Creon does not want to believe the things he has heard, just as Oedipus did not. And just as Oedipus could not, Creon could not control what would happen. His actions led to the death of his own son, his wife, and Antigone. Both leaders, having their futures already determined, could do nothing but sit back and watch the ends of their stories unfold. With these uncontrollable fates, both Oedipus and Creon would experience enormous grievances, which would lead them to realize that Tiresias had been right all along and that they should have taken time to...
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