How is figurative language used in Haemon's speech to his father in Sophocles' Antigone?I mostly had trouble understanding what Haemon meant when he said "branches do not snap, but stubborn trees...

How is figurative language used in Haemon's speech to his father in Sophocles' Antigone?

I mostly had trouble understanding what Haemon meant when he said "branches do not snap, but stubborn trees are torn up roots and all. In sailing too, when fresh weather blows, a skipper who will not slacken sail turns turle.

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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This passage comes from Sophocles' Antigone and is found in a lengthy speech that Haemon makes to his father Creon, who is the king of Thebes.

Haemon is trying to persuade his father to be more flexible in his decision making. Creon has declared that Antigone, who is Creon's niece and Haemon's fiance, must be put to death.

In making his argument, Haemon draws upon illustrations from nature and from sailing. Thus, using figurative language about trees and sailors, Haemon tries to get his father to appreciate the strategy of "bend but don't break." In a storm, trees that don't bend and sailors who don't slacken their sails end up getting destroyed. On the other hand, trees that bend and sailors who slacked their sails remain intact.

So, Haemon is trying to get his father to be more flexible with respect to Antigone. Unfortunately for Creon, he does not decide to become flexible until it is too late. By the time Creon reverses his death sentence against Antigone, she has already killed herself.

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