How does Creon change throughout Sophocles' Antigone?

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noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Sophocles' Antigone, Creon, the king of Thebes decrees that Polyneices, who has waged war against the city to regain the kingship, must not be buried. Creon declares that anyone who performs burial rites for Polyneices will be put to death. Even after Creon discovers that his own niece and soon-to-be daughter-in-law has defied his order, Creon stubbornly sticks by his decree. Even when Creon's own son tries to reason with him, Creon refuses to change his mind.

Eventually, though, Creon does change his mind after the prophet Teiresias predicts disaster for Creon unless he changes his mind about Antigone. After Teiresias departs, the chorus of Theban elders advises Creon to heed the prophet's warning. Thus, Creon changes his mind:

Alas—it’s difficult. But I’ll give up.
I’ll not do what I’d set my heart upon.
It’s not right to fight against necessity.

(Ian Johnston translation)

Unfortunately, Creon changes his mind too late. Upon arriving at the cavern in which Antigone has been imprisoned, he discovers that she has hanged herself. His son then kills himself after failing to kill his father. Finally, Creon's wife kills herself when she hears that Haemon has died.