How is Creon in Sophocles's play Antigone similar and different to Macbeth in Shakespeare's play Macbeth?

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Both Creon and Macbeth are ultimately undone by their respective relationships to power. Creon is something of a tyrant; his word is law and he insists on complete obedience to his word, whatever the consequences. For him, power means the exercise of an inflexible will, one that must never be...

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Both Creon and Macbeth are ultimately undone by their respective relationships to power. Creon is something of a tyrant; his word is law and he insists on complete obedience to his word, whatever the consequences. For him, power means the exercise of an inflexible will, one that must never be countermanded, even if it involves defying the gods.

Initially, Macbeth is without power. What's more, he's reluctant to attain it. He needs to be pushed, cajoled and emotionally blackmailed into killing Duncan, his king, the man to whom he's sworn undying loyalty. But Macbeth comes to think of Duncan's murder as fated, as part of a prophecy foretold by the Weird Sisters. In that sense, he can absolve himself of all moral responsibility for his part in the assassination of his king. It was all bound to happen anyway.

But Macbeth eventually comes to defy fate, as indeed does Creon. Once Macbeth has ascended the throne, he embarks upon a killing spree, and can no longer use the wiles of fate to try and justify his actions. Power has gone to his head, corrupting his soul absolutely. A once brave and noble warrior has turned into a blood-thirsty tyrant.

Creon also defies fate. What's more, he's defying the gods. In refusing to allow Antigone to bury Polyneices, he's challenging an age-old ritual, one that is as concerned with doing right by the gods as it is with honoring the dead. Creon's stubbornness is compounded when he contemptuously ignores the prophecy of Tiresias, who warns him that his actions will bring down the the gods' implacable wrath upon Thebes. Creon, like Macbeth, has been corrupted by power, and so cannot see the bigger picture, as it were. Both men have arrogated to themselves the right to behave as gods and both men must therefore be punished for their hubris.

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Ambition is a significant similarity between Creon in Sophocles's play Antigone and the title character Macbeth in Shakespeare's play Macbeth. More specifically, their similarity is the ambition to rule.

In Sophocles' Antigone, a primary reason Creon decreed the law denying Polynices's burial was to re-establish law and order in Thebes, especially to establish himself as the new King of Thebes. The city of Thebes has just undergone a great deal of political turmoil, and Creon is actually the fourth king crowned to rule over Thebes in a very small number of years. Prior to Creon, Oedipus was exiled, leaving his twin sons, Polynices and Eteocles, to rule jointly. The two brothers agreed to alternate possession of the throne each year; however, after only the first year, Eteocles, the younger brother, refused to step down and drove his brother into exile in Argos, where Polynices married the daughter of King Adrastus, Argeia. King Adrastus sent his army into Thebes to defend Polynices, but both brothers died killing each other in battle (Hellenica World Encyclopaedia, "Polynices"; Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Seven Against Thebes: Greek Mythology"). Hence, in Creon's mind, since Polynices attacked Thebes, Polynices is a traitor to the state and does not deserve burial, whereas, since Eteocles was defending Thebes, Eteocles is a hero of Thebes and does deserve a heroes burial regardless of the fact that, as the younger brother, he was keeping his older brother from his natural birthright. Therefore, in Creon's mind, in establishing the law denying Polynices' burial, Creon is trying to re-establish law and order in a devastated Thebes and to position himself as the new and trustworthy king, since he is next of kin of the deceased, as we see when he declares in his first speech in the play, "With laws like these I will make our city grow" (192-93).

Similarly, Macbeth also wants to establish himself as king, but his reasons are far less noble than Creon's. Creon is the rightful heir to the throne; Macbeth, on the other hand, must undertake a series of murders to try and secure the position of king. First, he kills the present King Duncan and the witnessing servants; then, he kills Banquo, who is expressing suspicion, and tries to kill Banquo's son Fleance, who may inherit Duncan's throne.

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