Power and authority can bring out a person’s character. Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Anyone can fight against his or her hardships, but the way a person uses their authority shows their potential and leadership qualities. The plays Antigone by Sophocles and Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare prove this a valid quote. In the play Antigone, Creon becomes overly confident with his power, and he gains excessive pride. In Julius Caesar, after Caesar is assassinated, Mark Antony becomes oppressive, ruthless, and tyrannical. One of the themes in Antigone is hubris. Creon, the ruler of Thebes, tries to appease the gods as the leader. His power causes him to become arrogant and he displeases the gods. He loses sight of the difference between civil and divine law. The conflict between civil law and divine law reoccurs throughout the play. Antigone believes in divine law over civil law. She thinks that civil laws are unfair and wants to bury her brother. Antigone is breaking civil law because Polyneices died in a war against Creon. Creon decides to kill Antigone for disobeying him. Creon believes that civil law is necessary to govern a city but divine law is not. He will do whatever it takes to keep his power. Many of Creon’s people died because he became overly confident due to his power. Therefore, his power showed his leadership qualities and arrogant character. The abuse of power is a theme in Julius Caesar. Mark Antony abuses his power and becomes tyrannical. The conspirators assassinated Caesar to save Rome from who they thought was an oppressive leader. Mark Antony was very angry that Caesar was dead; his emotions provoked his misuse of power toward the people. Antony becomes the tyrannical leader, not Caesar. His manipulative speech brainwashed the people so he could gain power. Then, he became a tyrant and mistreated his people. His power gave him even more confidence than he had before, which caused him to become corrupt. Once Antony won complete power over all of Navarro 11
Rome, he started killing the senators and other Roman diplomats. Antony was corrupted as he gained more and more power, and he chose to use the power for his own benefits. Thus many rulers are corrupt and don’t use their power for the good of the people. Plays and other works of literature such as Antigone and Julius Caesar show that power can show a person’s potential and change a person’s character. Antigone and Julius Caesar portrayed characters with power that revealed their leadership qualities and personal characteristics. Power can bring out the positive and negative qualities of a person.