At first, Haemon flatters the absolutist king Creon by declaring his complete loyalty to him and by extension the state. This was a smart move as it puts the king at ease and hopefully in a better position to listen to good counsel. Haemon is not questioning the king's authority...
At first, Haemon flatters the absolutist king Creon by declaring his complete loyalty to him and by extension the state. This was a smart move as it puts the king at ease and hopefully in a better position to listen to good counsel. Haemon is not questioning the king's authority but his wisdom in this matter.
Haemon relates the intelligence that the people of Thebes think the punishment is too much for a pious deed. Creon sidesteps the argument reverting back to his unquestioned authority to rule. He is missing the point. He may have absolute authority but is still subject to errors in his judgment like any mortal. His ego appears to cloud his reason. He accuses Haemon of being under the influence of love for a woman (true) and insults Haemon. Again, that sidesteps the issue of whether the king's harsh decree will be good for the kingdom (it will not). Creon is questioning Haemon's motives rather than addressing the objection directly.
Haemon explains that men are not omniscient with perfect judgment and that this should make them open to reason and good counsel. Consequently, they should be flexible and not rigid and unbending (exactly how Creon is behaving). That is how trees survive the storms. Haemon is right again. Creon keeps missing the point. If his ruling is too out of line with the morals and values of his people he may even end up undermining the state and his authority by his entombment of Antigone. This is a danger he simply refuses to see. Haemon argues that this death penalty could lead to other unintended deaths. Right again.
Haemon is correct in encouraging Creon to change his mind, but the tragedy is that even though Haemon has made all the correct points and truly has the best interest of the state at heart, Creon misjudges, ridicules, and dismisses him. The chorus and the audience can see this, but Creon cannot.