In Antigone, how does Creon react to Haemon's arguments?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The dialogue between Haemon and Creon reveals Creon's strengths and flaws as a leader. His main strength is that he is concerned with justice and fairness. In his reaction to Haemon, he emphasizes that the good and just ruler should not favor his own family but apply justice impartially to...

See
This Answer Now

Start your subscription to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your Subscription

The dialogue between Haemon and Creon reveals Creon's strengths and flaws as a leader. His main strength is that he is concerned with justice and fairness. In his reaction to Haemon, he emphasizes that the good and just ruler should not favor his own family but apply justice impartially to all people.

The main weaknesses Creon reveals about his own character are authoritarianism and too high an opinion of his own rectitude. He reacts to Haemon's criticism not by listening carefully to what Haemon is saying but by emphasizing how the father must have authority over the son and the ruler over his subjects. Despite his own emphasis on the value of rationality, Creon reacts angrily to what he perceives as a challenge to his authority, clouding his thinking about whether there might be some virtue in Antigone's actions.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Haemon confronts his father he makes a very sensitive appeal to his better judgement, not openly criticising him but presenting his concerns gently and clearly. He offers many metaphors to support his case, calling for his father to be lenient:

You've seen trees by a raging winter torrent,

how many sway with the flood and salvage every twig,

but not the stubborn--they're ripped out, roots and all.

Bend or break.

However, in response to the voice of reason and moderation, Creon shows himself to be just as stubborn as ever. In a dialogue with his son he protests that the people do not tell him to rule. In a series of revealing questions, he makes clear his position and his belief in his own despotism:

Am I to rule this land for others--or myself?

When he is not able to convince his son of his right to rule the way that he wants to, Creon states that Haemon is on the side of Antigone, calling him a "woman's slave." Being goaded into anger, Creon threatens to kill Antigone straight away in front of Haemon, who in turn rushes out saying that his father will never see him again because of his anger and insanity.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team