How does Creon in Sophocles' play Antigone compare and contrast with Amanda Wingfield in Tennessee Williams's play The Glass Menagerie?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Stubbornness is a main attribute shared by both Creon in Sophocles' Antigone and Amanda, the mother, in Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie.

Creon's stubbornness is displayed in both the fact he decreed a law that broke a law already established by the gods and in the fact he refused to listen to reason when others protested against his decisions. When King Oedipus was exiled from Thebes, he left his kingdom to be ruled jointly by both his sons Polynices and Eteocles; however, Eteocles the younger brother exiled Polynices the older brother. Therefore, Polynices returned to Thebes with the Argive army to reclaim his birthright. But in Creon's eyes, since Polynices attacked Thebes while Eteocles defended it, Eteocles should be given a hero's burial while Polynices should be treated as a traitor and refused burial. However, refusing any soul burial, as Antigone points out, breaks a law already decreed by the gods that all should be given proper burial so that their souls can find rest.

Since Antigone had the courage to do what the gods command, in the eyes of the citizens of Thebes, Antigone is a hero and Creon is a tyrant, which is what Creon's son Haemon tries to warn Creon of. Haemon warns, "Don't be so stubborn that you say you and you alone are right" and even further that "for a man to learn, even a wise man, is nothing shameful, nor to learn to bend and give way" (716-17; 721-23).

Likewise, though Amanda in The Glass Menagerie has not decreed any tyrannical laws in her household, she demonstrates her stubbornness by clinging to her desires for her children based on her own past; she clings so hard to her desires that she makes both her children feel stifled and trapped. Amanda grew up as a Southern bell surrounded by "gentleman callers" and is hoping for the same for her daughter Laura, who was unfortunately left crippled in the leg due to illness. Laura's physically crippled condition leaves her feeling socially crippled as well, and the more Amanda pushes her wishes for Laura to have a happy, married life, the more Laura feels inadequate and retreats into her inner world. The first time we seeĀ  Amanda cleaning stubbornly to both her past and her desires for her children is in the very first scene when Amanda acts surprised when Laura informs her she is not expecting any "gentleman callers" that night even though they probably have the exact same conversation every evening:

What? No one--not one? You must be joking! ... Not one gentleman caller? It can't be true! There must be a flood, there must have been a tornado! (I.i.)