Creon seems to undergo an awakening of consciousness during the course of the play. This involves improved understanding of his duty to the gods and his family, with compassion toward his niece Antigone, in particular.
Creon initially aims to rule Crete with an iron fist. He brooks no disobedience of his orders. Creon’s ruthlessness toward Antigone is especially heinous, as she is attempting to follow her familial obligation—something on which Creon has turned his back. Not content simply to give Polynices a less-than-glorious burial, he orders his corpse left “for birds and dogs to eat.”
Whether Creon would have realized his errors in his own time is open to debate. Instead, the prophet Tiresias makes him see that he has angered the gods. Does Creon act out of fear of their retribution, or does he act out of conscience? Regardless, he changes course and modifies Antigone’s punishment.
The entreaties of his son Haemon initially had fallen on deaf ears. Creon’s change of heart may...
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