Creon & PrideTireseas tells Creon “pride is a crime.”  Creon, however, is far from the only character guilty of this human stumbling block.  Discuss how other characters also fall victim...

Creon & Pride

Tireseas tells Creon “pride is a crime.”  Creon, however, is far from the only character guilty of this human stumbling block.  Discuss how other characters also fall victim to pride’s traps.

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Picking up the Chorus again.  Steinbeck noticed early on the tendencies of groups to act differently when together than they do when acting as individuals.  You might know this as "mob mentality" but Steinbeck argued that animosity need not be a factor in altering behavior; just the assembled of many persons affects their psychology.  He called this theory "group-man" and later "phalanx theory."

I think this is what happens to the choral members.  They move, think, speak as one.  Yet, when the leader is allowed his own asides, he sees more clearly, his advice is more sound; he is not lulled by remembrances of things past (Proust, of course), his voice is not blended among those of his peers.

What do you think? 

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Wow!  You really got sleuthing gear on!  It was my feeling, after going through the play as thorougly as I did, that Creon and Antigone were archetypes of pride, but no character, not a single one, was free of pride's allure; not one resists its false promises. 

I completely agree with you about Tireseas.  His pride is sometimes harder to see because we know he is right in his predicitions and prophecies.  Yet he is overbearing ("You will listen!") and acts as if he is immortal, which he is not.  (Oh, a big no-no to those on Mt. Olympus!) 

Re:  The Chorus.  I am writing my dissertation on John Steinbeck (and as anyone who's written a diss knows, sometimes it feels like *everything* relates to your topic!)  but in this case I don't think I'm stretching.  Gonna start another post before I get carried away and it gives me the nasty-gram "too many words" notice!
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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

Teiresias was the last example I found of pride, and again, I hesitated calling him prideful simply because he is what he is - He's the seer who always gets the prophecies right! Everyone knows this, including Creon and the Chorus, and yet Creon refuses to listen to him (for the first time ever!). When Creon says, "Dost know at whom thou glancest, me thy lord?", after their argument about the evils of both prophets and kings, Teiresias says, "Lord of the State and savior, thanks to me." I guess a prophet who is always right might be tempted to be a bit prideful as well! :)

Thanks, Jamie, for all the great questions about Antigone. This has been fascinating, and I can't wait for the Beowulf questions!

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

The next example I found was when the Chorus is speaking about how man is superior to the birds and beasts that he has learned to hunt and tame - that whole speech is very self-serving with regards to how great humankind is. They then say, as a warning to Creon:

"If he honors the laws of the land, and reveres the Gods of the State/Proudly his city shall stand; but a cityless outcast I rate
Whoso bold in his pride from the path of right doth depart;
Ne'er may I sit by his side, or share the thoughts of his heart."

Maybe I'm misreading this, but it seems almost like the Chorus is then condemning Creon for his pride, immediately after being prideful themselves?

Haemon is my next example of pride. He comes in to speak to his father, full of flattery, saying that he would never disagree with Creon...but there are people in Thebes who are upset by what he has done. Haemon is very tricky, very clever, and (I believe) prideful of the fact that he knows just what to say to get his father to do what he wants. Unfortunately, Creon is beyond reasoning with - he refuses to bend (despite Haemon's neat metaphors concerning the tree and the ship!) and ends up insulting his son:

"What, would you have us at our age be schooled,
Lessoned in prudence by a beardless boy?"

At this point, Haemon loses his calm composure...he reacts in pride to his father's scornful words, which ultimately leads to his death.

Yes, I have more! :)

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I loved this topic as it REALLY made me search through the text for answers (I mean, REALLY, REALLY...had to go back a couple of times more...REALLY!)! Creon is so obviously prideful that it overshadows that same fault in others. But here is what I found (hopefully I'm close!):

Antigone is guilty of pride, although it feels wrong to say that about her. She was trying to do the right thing, but if you go back and re-read her words, she does at times have a prideful sound to her; for example, speaking to Ismene:

"I urge no more; nay, wert thou willing still,
I would not welcome such a fellowship.
Go thine own way; myself will bury him.
How sweet to die in such employ, to rest,--
Sister and brother linked in love's embrace--"

Then, when Ismene says she will keep Antigone's secret, Antigone says, "O tell it, sister; I shall hate thee more/If thou proclaim it not to all the town."

She's basically saying, "Look at me - I'm being the virtuous one!" which, even if she's right, is still prideful.

I have more, but will continue on another post! :)

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