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A Discussion of Love in Antigone

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

antigone(98725)
Antigone is the finale, so to speak, of a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Sophocles. Previously to the beginning of the play, Antigone's two brothers Eteocles and Polyneices killed each other over a dispute to the throne. Creon, the new king, states that Eteocles will be buried with honor while Polyneices will be left unburied for the carrion animals to feast on.

The play begins with the sisters of the two brothers, Antigone and Ismene meeting in secret outside the gates of Thebes. Antigone wants to rebel and bury her brother; however, Ismene fears death and denies to help her. Later that day Creon asks his council of elders to support him in his decisions, especially the punishment of Polyneices, they agree, but a guard reports that a thin layer of dirt has been placed over Polyneices in the night. Creon angrily sends him out to find the culprit, he returns later with Antigone who does not deny her crime. Thinking that her sister must have helped her, Creon send for Ismene who confesses for this crime also. Antigone angrily protests that her sister had nothing to do with it. Creon orders them both imprisoned anyway.

Haemon, Creon's son and Antigone's fiancee, visits his father with hidden intentions to try and persuade him to free his fiancee. Their conversation does not go well and he vows to never see his father again. Creon decides to spare Ismene but Antigone is to be imprisoned in a cave. Teiresias, the blind prophet visits to warn Creon that the Gods are on Antigone's side. He also states that if he does not right the wrongs of leaving Polyneices unburied and Antigone entombed in the earth, he will lose one child for each crime. Creon sets out to right these decisions only to find his son Haemon and Antigone have taken their lives. After Creon's wife Eurydice hears of this, she also takes her life.

burial
One of the most seemingly out of place works in the play is the Chorus' Ode to Love the god of wine. Their ode speaks of love. How to affects men and Gods alike and sends them into a madness and perverts them to their own ruin. How all mean are men are defeated by Aphrodite's hands. This is out of place because there love is lacking in Antigone. She did not bury her brother simply from love, but more so out of defiance. She bore her sister no further love after she refused to conspire with her to bury their brother. She seemed to love her fiancee well enough and expressed the desire to not be a martyr for him, but it is unknown whether they truly took their lives for love or because it was a final act of defiance to Creon's order.

It can most commonly be interpreted that this ode pertains to Haemons' love for Antigone; however, it is possible that this speaks of Haemons' love for his father and the consequent disappointment it brings. Haemon's initial plea to his father, "give me good advice and I will follow it" (636) states that he has respect for his father and seeks his guidance. However, he discovers that his father is blinded by his perception of order. One that states that a woman cannot best a man, and a younger man cannot preach morals to his elders. In the flash of rage preceding his suicide he finds that the father he revered had led him astray and that he should have never taken his advice. Haemon sets himself free from living a life without love under the legacy of a cursed father, much like how Antigone and her siblings were cursed with Oedipus’s sins.

In conclusion, while the story may be named for Antigone, the tragic hero turns out to be Creon who loses all he loved to his pride and stubbornness. While love is present vaguely in the play it is played as a viscous and evil thing that twists those who are cursed with it.

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