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Decisions and Behavior of Characters in Sophocles’ Antigone

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    Antigone deals with the conflicts arising from three demands made upon the human psyche: the demands of religion (Zeus); the demands of the state (Thebes); and the demands of human instincts (Aphrodite). Characters like Antigone represent how firm beliefs and a strong sense of religion can impact an individual’s thoughts and actions. When Antigone was put before King Creon to defend herself she says to him “But all your strength is weakness itself against the immortal unrecorded laws of God. They are not merely now: they were and shall be, operative forever, beyond man utterly” (pg. 08). Throughout the book Antigone stands up, to seemingly impossible forces, for what she believes is God’s will. Antigone knew that her brother needed to be buried – the gods demanded the dead to be buried or else they would never reach the afterlife in Hades. And Antigone also knew that the consequence for disobeying the king’s was almost certain death. Her faith in God was stronger than her fear of death; Antigone knew that her actions would be seen as holy in God’s eyes (pg. 192) and that she would make the right decision by burying Polyneice?

    Creon’s thirst for power illuminates how humans strive to be in control and the destruction that these desires may bring. Once Creon took over Oedipus throne, when his sons had died, he became greedy for power. When Creon learns that Antigone and Ismene (in a sense) had disregarded his decree he jumps to conclusions assuming that they are aiming to take his throne. Creon says to Ismene “Snake in my ordered house, sucking my blood stealthily – and all the time I never knew that these two sisters were aiming at my throne! ” (pg. 12) Creon had gone from a wise and honorable advisor of King Oedipus but when the chance to take the role as king arose, he was eager to claim power and authority. Creon made a decree that disobeyed the god’s orders and when someone stood up to him, he takes it as a threat. Creon was so greedy for power that anyone who stood in his way or even dared to disagree with him was at risk of being killed. Even Creon’s own son, Haemon, could not change the king’s mind. Creon craved power so badly that he would stop at nothing or anyone to maintain his role of authority in Thebes.

    Sophocles represents the impact of human instincts on thoughts and actions through Antigone’s sister, Ismene. When Antigone was describing her plan to bury Polyneice’s against the King’s creed, Ismene thinks of how it will impact her and what others will think of them. Ismene is worried about what Creon will do to them: “But think of the danger! Think of what Creon will do! ”(pg. 191) Ismene was torn between being true to her sister or protecting herself even if she knew that Antigone was right. Ismene represents the human desire to please or to do what is right in people’s eyes.

    Antigone was not concerned about what people would think and she wanted Ismene to feel the same but Ismene was scared. Ismene chose to disregard her sister’s actions and pretend that she didn’t know of her plans but when Antigone was brought to court she changed her mind and wanted to join Antigone in her punishment. It was too late though, she had already refused to help in Antigone’s endeavors and Antigone would not have her. Ismene had allowed her fear of consequence to keep her from doing what is right.

    Sophocles uses his characters to make these demands real to his real to his readers. Antigone represents the type of faith that should be strived for; a faith that wipes away any fear of consequence, other’s opinions or even death. Creon represents how greed and selfish desires can impact the ability to make wise decisions. And Ismene represents how letting other’s opinions and fear of consequences can impact our decisions. Altogether, Antigone describes one man’s downfall, the power of faith, the role of human instincts on our decisions and how it can impact the human psych.

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    Decisions and Behavior of Characters in Sophocles’ Antigone. (2016, Nov 25). Retrieved from

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