Home » NOTES » RECONSTRUCTING THE MAJOR CHARACTERS OF ANTIGONE PLAY

RECONSTRUCTING THE MAJOR CHARACTERS OF ANTIGONE PLAY

Antigone, as it is named as the title of the drama from Sophocles (c.496-406 B.C), is a kind of drama tragedy where it ends the story with tragic and followed by mourn. The drama tells about the daughters of Oedipus who must face the death of their brothers –Etocles and Polyneices- with different treatment of burial. The first son is considered a hero meanwhile the last is supposed to be a traitor and serve no decent burial. Antigone finds this as injustice, since all the dead has right to be buried.

I find out it is not easy to decide who Antigone is. Antigone’s character is in questioned whether she represents a heroine or on contradictory she is a traitor. If we put our attention on the bravery of her to refuse the decree of his uncle- Kreon- who is considered to be the God himself, we can call her a heroine. In the name of power, as a matter of fact Kreon has absolute power as a king. He believed that whatever he said it has wisdom behind it. His will to let Polyneices lie on the plain should be accepted as final and anyone who does not support this will end in death. As sibling, Antigone condemns his uncle’s decision. She promises to burry his brother whatever it takes. Her courage may not be found in layman. Regarding she is a descendant of royal blood family so that she has such a bravery to challenge the King. Even her sister, Ismene, points her as unwise and she convinced that it is impossible to burry their brother. They are only women, and women cannot fight with men. Yielding to the authority of men is the safest way for both of them. Yet not prevented by the warning of Ismene, Antigone did not give in herself to the law and she buried her brother.

Facing the denial from Ismene, her only hope to carry the burial, she turns herself into a traitor in the eyes of law where all citizens are demanded never question the law. She said angrily that she will dare to transgress the law of heaven. She refused to obey the decree. With all her heart she buried her brother and caused Kreon felt tested to stick on the rule or put pity on his niece.

On the other side, Kreon as a King he believes that he is the source of law and justice at once. Any decrees he made seems to be impossible to change. He tries hard to be a good ruler and a good part of the family at the same time. Unluckily, he fails in both. I think that Kreon’s effort to be a good and responsible ruler is a normal attitude and represents humane side of Kreon. Also, it is normal for a King like Kreon to deny his son’s advice not to send Antigone to death as it will bring another deaths. He makes certain that Haimon is inexperience individual and cannot think more logical than adult like himself. This point of view causes Kreon said, “You consider it right for a man on my years and experience to go to school to a boy?” The way he thinks represent that he is a human. I believe that he never plans to use his power to hurt his nieces, but he thinks that a good king must never retreat his decree in order to be accepted as a new king that replace Oedipus position by his nieces. We can understand if he firmly decided that sending Antigone to a vault as punishment. He emphasized that a responsible king must be brave in taking consequence of his decision even though it sacrifice his own kin’s blood. He does not want to become the example of person who breaks law.

Collecting evidences to show that Kreon is a good king will be opposed by the facts that Kreon does not have all qualities to be grouped as a good king so that his actions satisfy us. Take one example when Kreon invites the Chorus to agree if his nieces are not sensible persons, and he said, “Gentlemen, I beg you to observe these girls: one has just now lost her mind; the other it seems, has never had a mind at all”. In my opinion, even though he is very angry, he can not utter such a statement as he is a king not a layman. In addition, as a king, he must also be able to control his emotion. It mentioned in page 1083 how his rage mounting steadily. He cannot control his emotion and even become furious and unable to limit his action not say that others as ‘doddery wrecks’. His harsh words decrease his quality as a good king. Another example is when he meets Teiresias. How he without any doubt judge Teiresias as a person that he can buy. He at least must believe that all human changes following his experiences, knowledge, and value that person achieve. I can say that Teiresias may conduct mistakes in the past but it does not mean that Teiresias is the same person when he reminds Kreon by saying ‘give in to the dead man, then: do not fight with a corpse- what glory is it to kill a man who is dead?’ this sentence shows that the value behind this is very high. He talks about glory, and no glory comes from the dead. This is a truth. Kreon ignores this, even worse he does not show any respect and consider Teiresias is low in reputation by challenging him saying: ”You have certain skill; but you have sold out. Whatever you say, you will not change my will” p.1101. Kreon’s stubbornness initiates Teiresias to foretell what Kreon is going to have in the future as: “and your house will be full of men and women weeping, and curses will be hurled at you from far cities grieving for sons unburied, left to not before the walls of Thebes”. As a tragic drama, what Teiresias ‘see’ send Kreon to never ending mourn. I presume that Sophocles wanted to show a lesson through this tragic drama. He informed us that bad destiny comes not because of the fate but because of the man himself. He plants the seed of hatred, anger, and pain to fulfill the demand of being perfect but later on it becomes the source of endless regret.

To perfect the story, the third character is introduced. She is Ismene who has an opposite character to her sister-Antigone. As a citizen, she is a loyal and obedient civilian. She disagrees with extreme decision of Antigone in reacting to a decree of the ruler. Ismene is sure that what a ruler assigned it for the good of the people. Besides that, Ismene is a kindhearted person. She shows up as a sister who is ready to share the bitter punishment of her sister’s crime. For this, Kreon metaphorically called her as snake: “Snake in my ordered house, sucking my blood … these two sisters were aiming at my throne! (p.1089, line 129) The accusation of Kreon is not true of course, as Ismene completely obey Kreon. She sees the law is strong, and this law takes shape as human, it is Kreon. Refer to this believe, Ismene cannot be categorized as ‘snake’.

Overall, reconstructing major characters from Antigone Play put me into a new insight that a good writer is not only able to create multi-interpreted text but also causes its reader to be smarter in reading for understanding from a text. For me, the discussion on finding out who Antigone, Kreon, and Ismene really are contributes to my realization that human to be made of many characters. Further, engaging with the major characters of Antigone Play, I have a clearer picture of consequences from every choice someone’s made. I can conclude that Antigone Play gives personal effect to my life. Firstly, it changes my point of view on understanding what other take as decision, secondly, it gives new experience in digesting a work of art, and the last pushes me myself to see things at least from two points of view.


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