In Antigone, examine the views and values that exist in the conflict between Creon and Antigone.  

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is interesting to note that the values and views that the titular character in Sophocles's drama holds do not really change.  Antigone is committed to honoring her family and validating the commitment to what she perceives as right.  Antigone feels that her commitment to her familial honor transcends Creon's laws and edicts.  In the opening of the drama when she speaks to her sister about her views and values, this commitment becomes clear when Antigone says that, "Well, then, I shall stop whenever my strength fails."  It is clear that Antigone values her family's honor in terms of issuing a proper burial and recognition for her brother.  Her views towards this are non- negotiable. In contrast to Ismene, Antigone does not believe in temperance or moderation. Rather, there is a full fledged belief that the shame of not honoring her family is worse than death:  "But let me and my foolish plans suffer/this terrible thing, for I shall succumb/ to nothing so awful as a shameful death."  Antigone's views are reflective of full commitment towards these ends:  “And if I have to die for this pure crime,/ I am content, for I shall rest beside him;/ His love will answer mine.”  The convictions that Antigone holds represent the core of her values and views in the conflict between she and Creon.

For his part, Creon embodies the status quo.  He represents and values the laws and orders that he issues and authenticates.  He does not value the voice of dissent that Antigone articulates with shrill and shrieking effect.  Creon believes that his power is strong enough to withstand Antigone's defiance:

But know that hard minds fall the hardest, and
that iron, so powerful of itself,
baked to exceeding hardness, you might see
crack and break into pieces. I know that 
spirited horses are broken with a small bit,
for no one is allowed to think big thoughts,
if he is another man's slave. She showed
herself capable of insolence then,
going beyond the laws put before her.
Her second insolence, after she had
done it, was to exult in her deed and
laugh that she had done it.

In this extract, Creon values his power.  He views Antigone's actions as disobedient to his own rule, something he sees as non-negotiable and inflexible.  He believes that his own will and his own power can "crack" Antigone and "break [her] into pieces."  He values control and a sense of conformity to his rule, evident in the term "insolence" used to describe Antigone's beliefs.  The reference to "power" is another indicator of Creon's values.  The collision between Antigone's convictions and Creon's commitment to his own notion of the good is what forms the crux of the conflict in Sophocles's work.

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