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The play Antigone is a great example of Greek tragedy which can be directly related to today’s life and provides valuable lessons. Although the play is named after Antigone, I believe that Kreon is the character who delivers the largest emotional response to the audience. This is due to both Kreon’s and Antigone’s stubbornness. Also, Kreon is a more dynamic character and gets more character development throughout the play whereas Antigone stays somewhat static.

Kreon provided a more emotional response than Antigone because of his inflexibility in his ruling and the results created by this stubbornness. The audience’s first response to Kreon is against the decree he has made. He said to not bury the traitor Polyneices because of his “…intent to burn with fire from top to bottom his fatherland…” (Blondell 199-200). Antigone completely disagrees with this new law because Polyneices is barely a traitor. After Oedipus died, his sons Eteokles and Polyneices were supposed to switch off on the throne annually but Eteokles did not want to give up the power after his first year. This caused Polyneices to declare a civil war against his brother and ultimately led to Eteokles’ and Polyneices’ deaths. Consequently, this relinquished the throne to Kreon, Oedipus’ brother. This proves Polyneices’ innocence since he was only rebelling because of his brother’s actions. Antigone, a daughter of Oedipus, did not see Kreon’s decree as being in line with the god’s law that you were supposed to bury your dead. Therefore, she believed she should not have to follow Kreon’s law (450-470). This initial conflict causes the audience to react badly towards Kreon due to his stubbornness. He believes his law is just even though many do not agree with him. Most audience members would see him as the antagonist and therefore have a bad emotional response toward him.

Kreon elicits another emotional response near the end of the play when he begins to realize his mistake as he talks to Teiresias. This brings out the human in all of us since everyone makes mistakes. Kreon doesn’t want to admit and yield, yet he knows he has done wrong (1095-1097). Then as he tries to fix his wrong, he learns about Antigone’s suicide, the death of his son Haimon, and then later of his wife Eurydike. His mourning brings out a large emotional response. He says, “It was I who killed you, I, wretch that I am!” (1320). This is one of the most emotional parts of the play, in the end, when Kreon realizes that his unjust law killed three innocent members of his family. He is stunned and can’t believe it happened. His shock and mourning of these people comprise almost one hundred lines of the play which shows Sophocles’ emphasis on Kreon’s grief. Even though many may have seen Kreon as the antagonist, which he still might be, one can at least relate to his suffering of terrible grief at the end of the play.

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Kreon gets the most emotional response in Antigone because his character is the most developed. At first, he is the strict ruler trying to restore order to Thebes after a bad civil war and he remains stubborn for a good part of the play until he talks to Teiresias. Teiresias changes Kreon’s mind, just as he loses two members of his immediate family because of a decision he made which at first seemed logical. As he looks back, he sees that maybe no one thought the law was just. This makes him feel worse since he knows that he is the one who caused all his misery. I believe it was his stubbornness that was the main cause of the conflict and result. If he had not been so stubborn about his law, he may have been able to change it. If he had gained counsel from Teiresias earlier then he may have been able to avoid his pain.

Antigone provides a large emotional response but hers is less when compared to Kreon’s mourning and self-realization of the wrongs he committed. While she does die from suicide, she does not change much throughout the story. Kreon develops as a character and finally changes his opinion near the end, but Antigone’s character is stagnant in her views. One could even argue that she is more stubborn than Kreon since he changed his views at the end. She never saw Kreon’s point of view even when he had a logical explanation for creating the law. Antigone does do the right thing when she buries Polyneices, but this act is the start of the conflict of the story. Even the first time Kreon accuses Antigone of committing the crime of burying her brother, she confesses and has no emotion other than continuing to maintain that she is right. She says, “I don’t deny it; I admit the deed was mine” (443). That is her mindset throughout the whole story. She believes in what she did and does not regret it in any way, nor will she change her mind about it. She is a very noble character in the sense that she stood up for her brother even though it was against the law to do so but again, she is consistent throughout the whole play. Even in Antigone’s last encounter with Kreon, she is still talking about how she is right. She says, “Yet, to those with sense I did well to honor you for I would never have defied the citizens to do this labor if the oozing corpse were that of my child, or if my husband lay there dead” (904-907). Antigone is still defending her actions and even telling Kreon that he doesn’t have sense since he did not allow Polyneices’ burial. This is the same message she has said since Kreon first confronted her.

In the end, Antigone commits suicide after burying her brother which is a very horrible thing and causes a big emotional response for the reader. However, the play ends with Kreon. The ending is centered around him because he has lost a son and his wife. There is not a much greater emotional response you can get. As a reader, thinking about losing a wife and a child in a matter of minutes would be unbearable. Kreon must now live without everyone he cares about. Kreon says, “I killed you, my son, without intending to, you too, my wife- ah, wretch that I am! I cannot look towards either one. Nowhere can I lean for support” (1340-1343). Antigone is gone but Kreon is still living, but without those he loves. Often, it is worse for the ones still around than the ones who have passed.

I believe the story of Antigone and Kreon shows the detriments of stubbornness. In this story, Kreon’s stubbornness proves to be a very bad trait. Kreon would not change his mind about the law that he made, nor would he let Antigone walk freely without consequence until he gained counsel. Antigone shows the importance of good counsel and listening and considering that counsel just as Kreon finally listened to Teiresias. Both Kreon and Antigone created great emotional responses in this play, but Kreon gave more of a response to the audience due to his stubborn tyrannical attitude, thereby causing the loss of his loved ones. 

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