How does Haemon in Sophocles' play Antigone compare and contrast with Laura in Tennessee Williams's play The Glass Menagerie?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One similarity we can see between Haemon in Sophocles' play Antigone and Laura in Tennessee Williams's play The Glass Menagerie is that both feel equally unheard by their parents.

In Antigone, Haemon acts as the voice of reason. He is unafraid to tell Creon, his father, that the citizens of Thebes disagree with both Creon's decree to refuse Polynices' burial and his decision to sentence Antigone to death for breaking his decree. As Haemon phrases it, the citizens of Thebes feel Antigone has performed a "noble deed" for fulfilling the law of the gods by seeing to her brother's burial. Quoting the citizens, Haemon reports what the citizens are saying behind Creon's back:

She didn't let her brother,
who had fallen in combat, lie unburied,
to be devoured by some ravenous
dog or bird. They ought to give her an award! (707-10)

He also begs his father to stop being so stubborn as to believe that only he as king is correct. But Haemon argues with his father to no avail; Creon will not yield, and the end result is Haemon's decision to die by Antigone's side.

Similarly to Haemon, Laura also argues with her mother. But, in contrast with the verbal battle between Haemon and Creon, Laura's mother is actually correct in her desperate desires for her daughter. Laura argues with her mother about whether or not she is pretty enough to receive any "gentlemen callers" and whether or not she is good enough to do anything at all. In the first scene of the play, when her mother tells her not to fuss in the kitchen so she can "stay fresh and pretty--for gentlemen callers!" Laura's response is to tell her mother, "I'm just not popular like you were in Blue Mountain." When her mother decides the best course of action is to invite home a gentleman caller so that Laura might get married, Laura's response is to protest by saying, "I'm crippled!"

However, unlike Haemon, Laura is actually incorrect, while her mother is correct. Laura is incorrect in believing that her crippled leg makes her a freak, unworthy of any attention, while Laura's mother is correct in knowing that Laura needs to find a means of provision one way or another, either by way of a career as a secretary or as a wife.

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