Paradox of Sympathy in Antigone by Sophocles

Antigone tackles a wide range of themes and lessons that Antigone and Kreon must grapple with throughout the play. In this play, Antigone and Kreon both learn essential tasks, such as ways in which Antigone must adhere to the law of the land and how Kreon must honor Antigone’s need to for burying her brother. Compassion should be shown to Antigone since she is defending liberty and the ability to do the right thing even if it is not the easiest thing to do. There are always two sides to every argument; Antigone demonstrates how King Kreon’s disaster with Antigone, his niece, significantly impacts the royal family and the country. We feel sorry for Antigone because she stood up for what she believed in and for King Kreon. After all, he admitted his mistake and apologized. Polynices’s death had a far more significant impact on the entire country than anyone imagined. Extreme tensions reached a zenith when newly inaugurated King Kreon issued a new order prohibiting the burial of Polynice’s remains, which is punished by death if performed. When deciding whether Antigone or Kreon deserves greater sympathy, it is critical to understand both characters’ emotions and motivations.

Their emotions influence people’s reactions to various events. Not only can emotions alter beliefs, but the legal system also produces extraordinary tensions as the drama progresses. Although Kreon acknowledged his error and desired to atone for it after speaking with the prophet Tiresias, Antigone deserves greater pity for sacrificing her life for what she felt was right. Antigone let her principles govern her actions, but the King followed unjust acts mindlessly because of his position and rank.

Pity is shown through expressing sadness and sympathy for the pain of another individual. In many respects, both of these people evoke sympathy because of their personality traits, family histories, and the situations they find themselves in. Ismene, Antigone’s sister, feels burying her brother is a suicide; therefore, she musters the strength to do the right thing. With her steely will, she brings the reader closer to her and makes her struggle more relatable. I’m going to bury him personally,” she vows. The only way this will end badly is if I get caught in the act. This is an outrage to the gods: I plan to fool the one I love and the one who loves me. Stave 244 of Antigone Antigone is doing her best to make sure a member of her family has a dignified funeral since she adores him and would do everything for them if she could.

The majority of people nowadays value those who are brave enough to speak up for what they believe. Standing out for what you think gives others the confidence to comprehend and empathize with your viewpoint. In front of the Chorus, Antigone addresses King Kreon and proves that her brother’s burial had a purpose. She not only stands up for what is right, but she does it with courage, saying, “I was made to engage in love, not hatred; that is my nature” (Antigone’s Line 465). At this moment in the play, Antigone manages to withstand Creon’s rage. She justifies her decision to bury Polynices in the face of Kreon’s refusal to compromise or even recognize her point of view. They have divergent ideas about how the gods will treat them if they offend either of them. It is via the Chorus’ repeated commentary on action or the tragedy’s central theme that the play teaches the audience on good spectatorship. After Kreon and Antigone quarrel in front of the Chorus, the crowd comments on Kreon’s insanity and thinks he will be punished.

When faced with a difficult decision following his ascent to the throne, Kreon strives to defend his principles and resist capitulating or backing down. If someone disobeys the law and no one is held responsible, why should anybody in a democratic society be held accountable? I have values as follows: Never in my hands will the traitor be seen as more honorable than the patriot. However, whoever demonstrates his allegiance to the state, I will honor him in death as well as in life.” (Line 654, Kreon) Kreon speaks with the Chorus’s leader about the ideas that placed him at odds with Antigone. Throughout most of the play, he is adamant in his convictions, and his reluctance to accept alternate viewpoints results in the unfortunate demises of Antigone and his son Haemon. While Kreon is responsible for respecting the legislation, he made and maintaining his integrity, and he is unreasonable in his treatment of it. A justice system aims to guarantee that laws are written to protect the people but maybe altered if they oppress them. Antigone commits herself as a result of Kreon’s refusal to make a deal with her. Antigone gets more compassion because standing up for what you believe in is nobler than blindly obeying something fundamentally flawed.

While Antigone receives more sympathy, not everything she does is treated appropriately. She might have obtained the same outcomes without inflicting such suffering on her loved ones. If she had not committed suicide, Kreon would have rescued her from the tomb, and both Kreon’s kid and wife, as well as Antigone, would have survived. “However, once a wrong is committed, a man can turn his back on folly and disaster as well if he makes apologies and abandons his bullheaded ways. Stubbornness stigmatizes you as a fool; pride is a crime.” (Tiresias, line 1153) The blind prophet Tiresias attempts to save Kreon by persuading him to reconsider the burial of Polynices. He warns against Kreon’s obstinate conceit, despite warnings from his son and others. However, we discover that Kreon is not correct and does not deserve as much pity because his judgment regarding Antigone’s destiny enraged the gods. As a result, the Gods took away those he cherished the most.

While it is clear that both individuals have done irrevocable wrongs, the play elicits sympathy for each character by connecting them to the reader’s previous errors. If Kreon finds it difficult to confess his mistake, standing up for right is even more complicated when the punishment is death. We are justice-seeking humans who desire freedom, and a legal system is essential in the present day because chaos would reign without it. Having the courage and fortitude to challenge authority when something goes against one’s values is exemplified by Antigone’s narrative. The two characters demonstrate some of the essential qualities taught in daily life, including obedience and bravery. Both characters are self-centered in their ways, but they are also justice-seeking persons, regardless of how their definition of justice is seen. Following an examination of Kreon and Antigone, several significant conclusions may be drawn. Antigone might be considered just as obstinate as Kreon for refusing to let this funeral go, but she can also be considered a hero defending her brother. Kreon is portrayed as the antagonist, a harsh king with unjust rules.


Sophocles. (1989). Antigone. New York.

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