Antigone & Creon: Compare & Contrast

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  • 0:00 Antigone and Creon
  • 0:30 Character Conflicts
  • 1:36 Similarities and Differences
  • 3:42 Character Analysis
  • 5:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer has a dual master's in English literature/teaching and is currently a high school English teacher. She teaches college classes on the side.

Sometimes the people that frustrate us the most actually share the same characteristics. In this lesson, we will analyze the characters Antigone and Creon, focusing on their similarities and how these traits cause conflict in the play.

Antigone and Creon

Have you ever struggled to get along with someone, and you couldn't figure out why? Sometimes people can be so similar that it ends up harming instead of helping their relationship. In the play Antigone by Sophocles, we meet two characters so similar they willingly fight to the death because of their personalities and beliefs. To provide some context for the comparisons in this lesson, let's review the conflicts of the play that the characters Antigone and Creon face.

Character Conflicts

Antigone's father exiled himself from Thebes, leaving her brothers Polyneices and Eteocles to share the throne. When Eteocles refuses to give up his time in power, Polyneices is forced to leave the city. He returns years later with an army, but unfortunately, both brothers die in battle, leaving Antigone and her sister Ismene to fend for themselves.

The next male in line to take the throne is their Uncle Creon. Creon's first order names Polyneices a traitor and prohibits a proper burial. Anyone that buries the body shall be punished by death. The thought of Polyneices' body rotting in a field pushes Antigone over the edge. She goes against Creon's orders and buries her brother, leaving Creon with a difficult choice to make.

Should Creon punish Antigone and make himself look weak in his new role as king? Or should he do right by his family and remove the charge? Not to mention Antigone is engaged to Creon's son Haemon. Let's look at their similarities and differences and determine how their personalities affect the outcome of the play.

Similarities and Differences

Even though Antigone and Creon are fighting for different reasons, they both feel deeply and passionately that their reasons are justified. While this difference in opinion causes conflict and death, it binds them together as two very determined individuals who are confident, maybe too much so, in their own beliefs.

Creon and Antigone are set in their ways, and their pride brings about their downfalls. Antigone refuses to acknowledge that she broke the law and would rather die than apologize or acknowledge her wrongdoing. Creon is the same way. He would rather kill a family member and ruin his son's future to stay true to his word and keep command over the people before he would admit defeat and misjudgment. Their pride manifests in different ways, but this stubbornness plays a negative role in both of their lives.

Antigone is loyal to her brother, promising him a proper burial at all costs. She risks her life to fulfill his wishes, remaining loyal to both her culture and the gods with this act. Creon feels his actions reveal his loyalty to Thebes. Antigone's brother fought against Thebes, which makes Creon feel his punishment is just. Going against one's home is a big no-no in Greek culture, so he also feels his action of denying the burial is honorable. While these two characters are on opposite ends of the spectrum regarding their reasons for being loyal, this trait is the reason for their conflict.

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