In Antigone, how does Haemon try to convince Creon to spare the life of Antigone?

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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...

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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.

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Haemon tries to convince Creon to spare Antigone's life by telling of him of the restless mood of the people. They're not at all happy about Creon's treatment of Antigone, and Haemon's genuinely worried that their murmurings of complaint could eventually lead to an uprising against his father. Haemon knows that Creon's throne is the most important thing to his father so tries to play on that in convincing him to spare Antigone.

However, Creon stubbornly refuses to accept his son's argument, so Haemon tries a different tack. He draws upon examples from nature to warn his father of what will happen if he persists on his present course of action. Trees that yield to a winter storm manage to save their branches whereas those that remain firm and unyielding are destroyed in their entirety—branches, trunk, and all. No prizes for guessing which tree Creon is and which he must become if he's to save his throne.

Once again, Haemon is rebuffed by Creon, who for good measure angrily accuses his son of disloyalty. For his part, Haemon realizes he's wasting his breath, and so walks out on his father, vowing that he will never submit to Creon's shamelessness.

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In addition to Haemon's pleads for his father to listen to the reasoning of the people of Thebes, Haemon also uses appeals to Creon's authority to convince him to spare Antigone's life.  Haemon tells his father that he will forever be his son and that no other union can replace the bond that he has with his father:  "[F]or there is no marriage shall occupy a larger place with me than your direction, in the path of honor."  Haemon knows that his father likes to be in control, so he submits himself as one of Creon's subjects to make his father feel like he is reasonable and in control.  Haemon wants his father to understand that he loves him and that he is not trying to make him appear foolish in front of the people; Haemon tells Creon that "beside your welfare there is nothing more prized by me" to stay in his father's good graces.  So, Haemon's appeals to his father's authority are another method that he uses to convince Creon to spare Antigone.

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