What are some similarities and differences between Creon and Antigone in Sophocles' play Antigone?

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It's human nature to try to find common ground between even the most hostile enemies. It's important that we find something that the enemies share in their motivations, characters, or personalities so we can "bring them together" and help them to "work things out."

Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes...

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It's human nature to try to find common ground between even the most hostile enemies. It's important that we find something that the enemies share in their motivations, characters, or personalities so we can "bring them together" and help them to "work things out."

Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't. In Antigone, it doesn't.

Antigone and Creon are not in the least similar. There's no common ground, or any other form of commonality, between them. They might as well live in different worlds, which, in a sense, they do.

At the beginning of the play, Antigone is already in heaven, communing with the gods—if not yet in person, then certainly in spirit.

Creon is stuck firmly on earth, overwhelmed by earthly concerns, and he appears to be working his way even lower on the continuum from heaven to the underworld.

Antigone and Creon's motivations for their actions are diametrically opposed. Antigone believes with all of her heart and soul that what she's doing in burying Polyneices is right, just, and, most important to Antigone, sanctioned by the gods.

Creon can claim none of these things. Creon believes only in himself and his own force of will.

The essential, irreconcilable difference between Antigone and Creon is that Antigone's actions are governed by an underlying moral imperative, whereas Creon's actions are ruled fundamentally and exclusively by his own pride.

Antigone never rationalizes her decisions or makes excuses for her actions because she commands the higher moral ground, and there's simply no reason for her to do so. Creon never ceases rationalizing his decisions and making excuses for his actions because he has no moral ground on which to stand.

Many scholars contend that Antigone, too, suffers from the tragic flaw of excessive pride. If Antigone suffers from anything, it's from righteousness, and not from excessive righteousness, which would represent a flaw in her character. Antigone has just the right amount of righteousness.

Creon rationalizes that he acts for the good of the state, and for the good of the people. In truth, he acts only for himself. Creon feels no sense of righteousness. He feels only self-righteousness.

Creon's character doesn't change. A consequence of Creon's tragic flaw of excessive pride is that it renders him incapable of change. Creon behaves absolutely in character throughout the play.

Creon appears to undergo a change of character and a change of heart towards Antigone. He rescinds his death sentence against her, and he hurries to the cave where she's been entombed in order to rescue her. When Creon arrives at the cave, Antigone is already dead.

In his seeming change of heart, Creon is less motivated by what is right and moral than by self-interest, and he's acting in response to the dire warnings from Teiresias.

TEIRESIAS. Know then for sure, the coursers of the sun
Not many times shall run their race, before
Thou shalt have given the fruit of thine own loins
In quittance of thy murder, life for life;
For that thou hast entombed a living soul,
And sent below a denizen of earth,
And wronged the nether gods by leaving here
A corpse unlaved, unwept, unsepulchered.
Herein thou hast no part, nor e'en the gods
In heaven; and thou usurp'st a power not thine.
For this the avenging spirits of Heaven and Hell
Who dog the steps of sin are on thy trail:
What these have suffered thou shalt suffer too.

These warnings would be a strong motivation for change for anyone, and particularly for someone as self-possessed, self-protective, and prideful as Creon. Creon does what's expedient, not necessarily what he thinks is morally right.

Antigone doesn't change through the play, but she doesn't need to change. By the end of the play she's dead (which is a significant change in her life, of course), but Antigone's death is a consequence of Creon's prideful behavior, not her own.

On the issues presented in the play, Antigone and Creon have no common ground, and no hope for a peaceful resolution of their essential differences.

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At a glance, it may seem that Antigone and Creon are two completely different characters, and indeed, their different priorities certainly cause them to come into conflict with one another. However, what ultimately causes them to oppose each other—to their individual downfalls—is their similar sense of justice. Creon is so frustrated with Polynices' disruption that he strips him of the right to a burial. Antigone, one the other hand, has a deeply ingrained sense of divine justice, and sees this punishment as out of touch with the will of the gods. Both are doing what they believe is truly right and just, and neither will back down.

The primary difference between the two is one of priority, and can be seen as a conflict between the masculine and feminine. Antigone, as a woman, is largely concerned with the care of the dead and burial rite. The idea of her brother as carrion for vultures is too much to bear, regardless of what crimes he may have committed. Creon's priority is to appear as a powerful and just ruler, and one whose policy cannot be swayed by public outcry or by one rogue girl's actions. Antigone, whose sense of justice is rooted in the will of the gods rather than in holding on to political power is, of course, where the moral high ground lies in the context of the story.

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Creon and Antigone are similar because they draw power from their definitions of "justice."  The difference between them is their beliefs on the origins of just action.

Both Creon and Antigone feel that their power comes from their understandings of justice.  Antigone believes that the duty she has in honoring her brother Polynices’s death comes from the divine.  She believes that her actions are done in name of honor, family, but most of all, in recognizing an ethical responsibility: 

Be whatever you want, and I will bury him.
It seems fair to me to die doing it.
I will lie dear to him, with one dear to me,
a holy outlaw, since I must please those
below a longer time than people here,
for I shall lie there forever. You, though,
dishonor the gods' commands, if you wish.

Antigone's responsibility lies outside of the world of human beings.  Antigone believes that "the gods' commands" are the source of just action. Her understanding of justice is a divine one.  She feels power by acting in the name of the divine.  Antigone has no problem being "a holy outlaw" because her devotion to the gods gives her power.

In a similar way, Creon believes that his perception of justice gives him power. Antigone's sister, Ismene, refuses to join Antigone because she cannot "go against the king's decree and strength."  Indeed, Creon views justice as originating from himself.  When arguing with his son, Haemon, Creon argues that justice originates from his rule because he is in power.  In lines 735- 740, Creon is pointed in how "the mob" is not going to "dictate my policy" and how he will rule for himself and not "for others." Creon believes that "the state is his who rules it." As a result, Creon believes that he is just because his position as leader makes him the source of justice.  Both he and Antigone feel justified because they feel that their perceptions of justice empower their actions.

The difference between both is, of course, what justice looks like.  Antigone views justice as originating from the divine.  In honoring the gods, she feels that she is acting just.  Creon views justice as originating from whoever holds political power.  She sees justice as something beyond the realm of human beings, while Creon feels that justice exists within it.  This difference highlights their collision of convictions, and reflects why they are unable to negotiate.

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Although Antigone and Creon are antagonists in Sophocles’ plays, the conflict between them is due as much to their similarities as to their differences. Both are dedicated to abstract notions of justice. Both are pious and both wish the best for the city of Thebes. They also share in common a degree of stubbornness; once they have decided a certain course of action is right, they will pursue it regardless of the negative consequences to themselves or others. Neither of them is particularly good at listening to the opinions of other people, and neither is easily swayed by sentiment.

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