Who makes the best argument in Creon and Haimon's dispute in Antigone, and what is the core issue?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The conflict between Haimon and Creon mirrors a conflict that routinely occurs in the play, which is the conflict between the old and the new. This conflict reignites between Haimon and Creon. 

Creon announces to his son that he should be loyal to his father, declaring:

That is the way to behave: subordinate / Everything else, my son, to your father's will / This is what a man prays for, that he may get / Sons attentive and dutiful in his house, / Each one hating his father's enemies, / Honoring his father's friends. (503-508)

Creon claims that Antigone is an anarchist, and consequently she must be viewed as a natural enemy of Creon since he is a part of the state.

Haimon responds that he is a dutiful son, but that his father must not be so simple in his viewing of the problem. While Antigone was ordered to not bury her brother, she was being loyal to her family when she disobeyed this order. Haimon then announces some of the most famous lines in the play:

In flood time you can see how some trees bend, / And because they bend, even their twigs are safe, / While stubborn trees are torn up, roots and all... / I know I am young; but please let me say this: / The ideal condition / Would be, I admit, that men should be right by instinct; But since we are all too likely to go astray, / The reasonable thing is to learn from those who can teach. (571-582)

Haimon's argument becomes the more provocative and compelling argument, as he is on the side of Antigone and Creon is ultimately portrayed as a villain. However, this argument is more than a simple father/son dispute. It is a feud over leadership styles. Creon pulls from an old model, stating that everyone should simply be loyal to the patriarch. Haimon, however, announces that it is better to learn from those who teach and to use patience and contemplation in decision-making. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial