Antigone Essay, Research Paper
You’ve seen trees by a raging winter torrent,
how many sway with the flood and salvage every twig,
but not the stubborn — they’re ripped out, roots and all.
Bend or break.
(Sophocles, Antigone, p. 811)
Creon is angered at the disobedience of Antigone. She buried her brother, although she knew of Creon?s disapproval and of the cruel punishment, which awaited anyone who broke the law. Still she defied Creon and broke a law that was made publically. Her direct disobedience enrages him not only because she disobeyed but also because she denounces his law as incorrect and invalid. Now Haemon is caught between father and fianc?. Haemon loves them both and his sincerity is apparent in this passage. He is not wishing his father any harm but tries instead to reason with him. Creon?s blindness to understand and except his weaknesses and mistakes is his downfall. And Haemon in his youth and inexperience demonstrates more knowledge and wisdom than his father the King, who is blinded by anger at his power being questioned.
If one explores the tree?s symbolism we might see it as a creation of nature. And the raging winter torrent can represent the Gods. First off, the tree is a creation of nature just as humans are a creation of the gods, therefore the gods are constantly challenging that which they have created. The fact that some trees bend and others break demonstrates the facts that some people pass the difficult tests of life while others; those unwilling to be flexible are destroyed or uprooted. The word salvage connotes the act of saving, making the feat even more commendable for the tree that swayed with the flood. The surviving of every twig again alludes to the fact that one man can either destroy or save those who are part of him. And Creon is clearly unwilling to see past the anger which he feels for his wisdom being challenger by a women and now by his own son.
Here now is the comparison with a lineage tree, a family tree. The tree itself represents Creon?s family, which goes back to Oedipus and his ancestors. The image of the tree being ripped out, roots and all can be seen as his family?s future foretold by his son. Creon is more concerned with his public image than with the cities approval. In this manner the city could be the flood, which the tree must survive, the peoples scorn if they decide to revolt against him. Another manner of seeing this is that the flood could just be representative of life?s difficult tasks, and in their case maybe even the family curse. It may be that an end to the curse is possible if only pride would be put aside and the greater good would have been kept in mind. When one tries to oppose something greater than oneself the inevitable will happen, Creon is opposing something that is greater than him the law of the gods, and thus his lineage is destroyed. A flood cannot generally be stopped completely, but slowing it down can diminish the damage. This process also gives people the chance to think of new ways in which to stop it and then reconstruct. In this way the tree, which sways with the flood and just slows it down, has a better chance of surviving. Along with the tree symbolism also can be included the idea of the young and old tree. A younger tree is greener and has more flexibility than one that is old and drying. This way explains why Haemon can understand what should be done, while Creon, being old, lacks the youth of ideas just as the old tree lacks nourishment and because of this is carried by the ever-changing water of the flood.
Lastly, the tree can be a symbol of the state as a whole, the twigs are the citizens, while the bark, or the part of the tree that holds these twigs together, is Creon. This is the way in which we see him as holding the fate of the city in his hands and whether he will lose his people or keep them by change in his position
As for the seasonal aspects of the phrase winter is the time of year in which the biggest test is set forth for earth?s creation. In the same way this is the biggest test on Creon?s capacity as rule. Winter also reminds us of the story of Demeter, Persephone, and Hades.
In this story Hades takes Persephone away from her mother. Demeter is very upset and searches for Persephone, but while she searches she neglects earth, her realm, this is when winter occurs. The earth turns cold and barren causing all living plants and crops to die destroying all that which she created. Likewise one could argue that Creon is upset at Antigone?s taking of Haemon, although not physically, she has taken him away in that he no longer follows his father blindly. He is defying and disrespecting Creon by questioning and suggesting that his decision is wrong. Creon is so distraught that it causes him to be blinded by anger and enraged so that he makes the mistake of causing death to all that which he treasures and helped create, his son and his wife.
A king when first placed in power has the task of proving his strength and wisdom to his followers, only this will obtain their respect. He can be greatly discredited by someone that questions his judgment and knowledge, especially if done publicly. Antigone did just that she knew of the kings decree and she outright disobeyed it and then when caught she went as far as saying that his decree was invalid in this case because the law of the gods ruled. After this blatant act of disrespect by someone in his own family he now has his son telling his that he is wrong and unjust. These are all good reasons for Creon?s rage, yet Haemon is right in saying what is stated above: a person filled with anger and feelings of inadequacy will act rash and this could be their downfall. Many kingdoms before have fallen because of selfishness and people being unable to acknowledge their mistakes. After all a city is only as strong as its king but it works visa versa in that a king with no country is just a power crazy fool. Creon can either lead a people who hold him dear, or loose his people and family. I guess we all know which he chose!