What do these four quotes mean and how are they relevent throughout the drama, Antigonê? 1. "God moves Swiftly to cancel the folly of stubborn men." - Choragos 2. "The toughest iron cracks first."...

What do these four quotes mean and how are they relevent throughout the drama, Antigonê?

1. "God moves Swiftly to cancel the folly of stubborn men." - Choragos

2. "The toughest iron cracks first." - Creon

3. "There is nothing so comfortable as your own safe skin." - Sentry

4."Grief teaches the steadiest minds to waver." Ismene

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The quotes featured reflect traits of Creon and Antigone that play a formative role in the drama's resolution.

"The folly of stubborn men" is the Chorus's way of expressing Creon's error in judgment. The Chorus suggests that Creon's error lies in his inability to see past his own point of view.  Several people, including Teiresias, had warned Creon had already warned him of this danger.   Despite repeated requests for Creon to abandon his insistence on being right, he refuses to budge.  When the Chorus says that "God moves swiftly to repudiate stubbornness, it foreshadows the ending to the drama, where Creon's hubris is punished through the death of his loved ones.  

Creon's stubbornness is rooted in his attitude towards those who question him.  When he says, "The toughest iron cracks first," it reflects how Creon does not acknowledge dissent productively.  He sees people who disagree with him as obstacles that will eventually be overcome.  He communicates this to Antigone when she is brought in front of him.  He tells her that eventually, she will submit to his will.  Creon's quote shows a massive underestimation of Antigone, something he will eventually end up realizing as the drama unfolds.

I think that the Sentry's thoughts when he brings Antigone to Creon reflects the difference between passionate belief and pragmatic action.  The Sentry is pragmatic in the way he approaches his job of delivering Antigone to Creon. He knows that the king is angry.  While he does not want to increase Creon's wrath, the Sentry has empathy for Antigone.  He recognizes the authenticity with which she carries out her actions.  He tells this to Creon when the Sentry says that Antigone did not deny breaking the law in burying her brother.  The Sentry calls her a "friend" as he presents her to Creon. However, in saying,   "There is nothing so comfortable as your own safe skin," the Sentry is saying that he would rather be safe in doing his job and following orders than taking a chance on convictions and intense beliefs.  His desire for "safe skin" is much different than Antigone, who lives for her convictions.  The Sentry's idea reflects the difference between Antigone and most everyone else.  It shows how many people would sacrifice ideals for practical reality, foregoing convictions in exchange "for being safe in their own skin."

Ismene's quote is one of saddest in the drama.  She speaks about the impact grief has on the individual.  Despite the power of Antigone's and Creon's convictions, Ismene's quote reminds us how grief causes destabilization. Grief and sadness make us "waver" in our beliefs because it strikes at our weakness.  When Creon sees the body count that results from his stubbornness, it is clear that he wavers in his supposedly "steady" approach. Ismene reminds us that no matter how confident we appear to be, grief and sadness increase the tendency to doubt.