Character Changes Involving Antigone and Creon

In Sophocles’ Greek tragedy, Antigone, two characters undergo character changes. During the play the audience sees these two characters’ attitudes change from close minded to open-minded. It is their close minded, stubborn attitudes, which lead to their decline in the play, and ultimately to a series of deaths.

In the beginning Antigone is a close minded character who later becomes open minded. After the death of her brothers, Eteocles and Polyneices, Creon becomes the ruler of Thebes. He decides that Eteocles will receive a funeral with military honors because he fought for his country. However, Polyneices, who broke his exile to " spill the blood of his father and sell his own people into slavery", will have no burial. Antigone disagrees with Creon’s unjust actions and says, " Creon is not strong enough to stand in my way." She vows to bury her brother so that his soul may gain the peace of the underworld. Antigone is torn between the law placed against burying her brother and her own thoughts of doing what she feels should be done for her family. Her intent is simply to give her brother, Polyneices, a proper burial so that she will follow "the laws of the gods." Antigone knows that she is in danger of being killed for her actions and she says, "I say that this crime is holy: I shall lie down with him in death, and I shall be as dear to him as he to me." Her own laws, or morals, drive her to break Creon’s law placed against Polyneices burial. Even after she realizes that she will have to bury Polyneices without the help of her sister, Ismene, she says:

Go away, Ismene:

I shall be hating you soon, and the dead will too,

For your words are hateful. Leave me my foolish plan:

I am not afraid of the danger; if it means death,

It will not be the worst of deaths-death without honor.

Here Ismene is trying to reason with Antigone by saying that she cannot disobey the law because of the consequences. Antigone is close-minded when she immediately tells her to go away and refuses to listen to her. Later in the play, Antigone is sorrowful for her actions and the consequences yet she is not regretful for her crime. She says her crime is just, yet she does regret being forced to commit it. Antigone now has the ability to consider her consequences because her action of burying her brother is complete. She knows her crime is justified, but her new open-mindedness leads her to consider the alternative. Even though she knows she will die with honor she is grieving for the way she was forced to commit a crime to take an action she believes is justifiable. This is seem when Antigone says:

Soon I shall be with my own again
. ..

To me, since it was my hand

That washed him clean and poured the ritual wine:

And my reward is death before my time!

And yet, as men’s hearts knows, I have done no wrong,

I have not sinned before God. Or if I have,

I shall know the truth in death. But if the guilt

Lies upon Creon who judged me, then, I pray,

May his punishment equal my own.

Antigone’s statement shows open-mindedness because she says she does not believe she has sinned but if she has she will know in death. Before Antigone believed that her actions were not sinful, but how she shows an open mind. She is also saying if it is Creon’s fault that she will die then may he die also for sending her unjustly to her death. Antigone says:

Thebes, and you my father’s gods,

And rulers of Thebes, you see me now, the last

Unhappy daughter of a line of kings,

Your kings, led away to death. You will remember

What things I suffer, and at what men’s hands

Because I would not transgress the laws of heaven

Come: let us wait no longer.

She comes from a long line of kings that were fated to die because of a curse placed on them. She willingly leaves to die knowing that it is an honorable death. Antigone hangs herself, in the tomb she was placed in by Creon, using a noose of her fine linen veil.

Creon, Antigone’s uncle, experiences a change of close-mindedness to open-mindedness with