I will bury him myself. And even if I die in the act, that death will be a glory. I will lie with the one I love and loved by him—an outrage sacred to the gods!
Antigone speaks to her sister, Ismene, early in Antigone. Ismene has just told Antigone that she must refuse Antigone’s request to help bury their brother because she must obey Creon. She considers it “madness” to break his martial law and bury Polynices. In answer, Antigone withdraws her request of Ismene to help her. She will bury her brother’s corpse alone. Antigone must do what she believes is right and just, revealing the core of her character.
Dear god, shout it from the rooftops. I’ll hate you all the more for silence—tell the world!
Antigone’s words to Ismene early in Antigone reveal her fiery personality. Not only is Antigone willing to rebel against Creon’s proclamation, she is also willing to tell everyone that she is the one who buries her brother’s corpse. Ismene believes her sister is impetuous, irrational, and “wrong from the start.” Ismene, not as bold as Antigone, would have kept the burial silent.
Like father, like daughter, passionate, wild . . . she hasn't learned to bend before adversity.
Antigone speaks to the leader of the Chorus and to Creon, standing her ground about burying her brother. Creon considers hers among the “stiffest stubborn wills” who will shatter in a white hot fire and compares her to a slave or a horse that is impossible to break. In fact, Creon and Antigone are both stubborn, and each will suffer at the hand of their own pride.
The girl was an old hand at insolence when she overrode the edicts we made public. But once she had done it—the insolence, twice over—to glory in it laughing, mocking us to our face with what she’d done.
While in the presence of Antigone, Creon explains to the Chorus that he considers Antigone to represent the epitome of stubborn pride, made worse by her mocking tone as she refuses to obey his law. Creon rails against Antigone to the Chorus, speaking in third person as if she weren’t standing right there. This underscores the communication gulf and stubborn enmity between Creon and Antigone.
I was born to join in love, not hate—that is my nature.
Antigone stands up to Creon’s anger at this point in Antigone. In the face of Creon’s unwillingness to compromise or even consider her point of view, she defends her decision to bury Polynices. She thinks the gods will favor her, but he thinks they will punish her. In his next line, Creon responds, “Go down below and love,” for he is about to sentence her to death, believing that no woman should ever challenge him and survive.
The king was shattered. We took his orders, went and searched, and there in the deepest, dark recesses of the tomb we found her . . . hanged by the neck in a fine linen noose, strangled in her veils—and the boy, his arms flung around her waist . . .
Here, a messenger describes to Creon’s wife Eurydice events that occur during the climax of Antigone. Creon, who previously sentenced Antigone to death by sealing her in a tomb, finally realized the error of his pride and traveled to the tomb to set Antigone free. There Creon found his son Haemon embracing Antigone’s body. In his heartache and rage, Haemon attempts to kill Creon, but instead takes his own life. Creon’s pride results in the destruction of two families.
But my two daughters, my two helpless girls, clustering at our table, never without me hovering near them . . . whatever I touched, they always had their share. Take care of them, I beg you.
In Oedipus the King, Oedipus begs Creon to take care of his daughters, Antigone and Ismene. At this point, Oedipus is a broken man. After learning the truth of their tragic lives, Oedipus blinded himself and his wife hung herself. Oedipus’s request reveals the trust he places in Creon. Ironically, Creon’s future actions directly lead to Antigone’s death.
What’s that? O god! Do I really hear you sobbing?—my two children. Creon, you’ve pitied me? Sent my darling girls, my own flesh and blood! Am I right?
Near the end of Oedipus the King, a blind Oedipus reacts to his young daughters being led in from the palace by their nurse. When Oedipus realizes Antigone and Ismene are near, he is happy and grateful to Creon for granting his wish and taking care of his daughters. Antigone and Ismene, however, are frightened by Oedipus’s appearance. The same event that gives Oedipus joy will haunt Antigone and Ismene for the rest of their lives.
. . . step by step, our steps together, lean your aged body on my loving arm.
In Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone is taking care of her frail, broken father with love and great affection. They have been wandering in exile for some time and stop at a rocky outcrop to rest after a citizen has told them that they must leave the sacred ground of the grove. Instead of reacting to the situation with anger or fear, Antigone focuses on caring for her father and showing him great love and patience.
Oh let him come! Many other men have rebellious children, quick tempers, too . . . but they listen to reason, they relent the worst rage in their natures charmed away by the soothing spells of loved ones.
In Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone pleads with Oedipus. With the help of Theseus, the current king of Athens, she tries to convince Oedipus to listen to reason rather than indulge in the grudges of his past. Antigone encourages her father to be patient and to hear what Polynices has to say. Again, Antigone reprises her role of peacemaker and reminds Oedipus that a “dreadful outcome waits on dreadful anger.”
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