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In Antigone, both Creon and Antigone can be interpreted as tragic figures. By the conclusion of the drama, Antigone is dead and Creon's life is so unbearable he longs for death. Throughout the play, the numerous tragic events develop as a result of Creon's specific actions.
1. Creon declares that the body of Polyneices shall remain unburied. This initial action drives the play and eventually results in the deaths of Antigone, Creon's wife Eurydice, and his son Haimon.
Polyneices, I say, is to have no burial: no man is to touch him or say the least prayer for him; he shall lie on the plain, unburied; and the birds and the scavenging dogs can do with him whatever they like.
This is my command , and you can see the wisdom behind it. As long as I am king, no traitor is going to be honored with the loyal man.
2. When Antigone explains to Creon why she was compelled to bury her brother Polyneices' body, she says that both of her brothers deserve the honors "due all the dead," and she implies she loves both of her brothers. Creon rejects her feelings and does not absolve her for the crime of defying him to bury Polyneices:
Go join them, then; if you must have your love,
Find it in hell!
3. After Creon has condemned Antigone to death for defying him, Haimon tries to change his father's mind, to save Antigone's life because Haimon loves her deeply. Creon rejects his son's appeals and becomes quite angry with him. Creon says he will kill Antigone before Haimon's eyes:
Now, by God--!
I swear, by all the gods in heaven above us,
You'll watch it, I swear you shall!
Haimon leaves quickly to avoid Creon's killing Antigone at that very moment. Creon's words have so enraged him, Haimon vows never to see his father again, a vow he keeps. Consequently, he does not learn that Creon eventually does change his mind about killing Antigone.
4. Creon orders that Antigone be shut up in a tomb outside the city where she will eventually die:
I will carry her far away
Out there in the wilderness and lock her
Living in a vault of stone.
Antigone is entombed. She hangs herself rather than die slowly.
5. When the wise prophet Teiresias explains to Creon why he must reverse his course and let Antigone live, Creon dismisses the old man's counsel even before he hears it. He makes this clear to Teiresias:
Whatever you say, you will not change my will.
After Teiresias leaves, Creon becomes frightened by the prophet's predictions of Creon's future. Creon goes to release Antigone from the tomb in which he has placed her, but he arrives too late.
Antigone and Haimon have both committed suicide. Creon's wife kills herself when she learns of Haimon's death. Creon's actions through the play result in tragedy for Antigone, for his wife, for his son, and for himself.
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