Creon And Antigone

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Societies are, by necessity, made up of people, though according to Marx, “Society does not consist of individuals but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand”. Societies contain an ethos that is shared in some way by all its inhabitants, but sometimes this ethos can become a sort of corrupt and unattainable ideal. When Arthur Miller wrote Death of a Salesman this ethos turned wrong was the driving force behind the tragedy of Willy Loman. However this conflict is far older than America; in 441 BC when Sophocles wrote Antigone this driving force was simply man made law (as opposed to divine or natural law). In both plays, these pervasive societal constructs are presented and deconstructed by means…show more content…
Creon represents the tendency for those in power to be more concerned with themselves than those they have power over. In his argument with his son, Creon frustratedly asks, “Am I to rule for others, or myself?” (_antigone). This makes it clear that Creon has lost touch with what it really means to be a lawmaker. To Creon, law has become a way of furthering his goals more so than a way to help the people. This is what leads to Creon making the act of burying Polynices a crime, and in turn what leads to Antigone’s act of defiance and her death, along with the rest of Creon’s family. Willy Loman is Creon’s counterpart in Death of a Salesman. Like Creon has done with law, Willy has put all his faith into the American Dream and has fallen prey to the idea that material wealth and superficial respect are the keys to being successful. Part of Willy’s delusion is also that he believes he has already achieved this, to Biff he says, “And they know me, boys, they know me up and down New England. The finest people. And when I bring you fellas up, there’ll be open sesame for all of us, 'cause one thing, boys: I have friends” (_Death). This statement is…show more content…
These sorts of character serve a particular purpose in the context of the plays. They are a foil against which the plights of the true focuses can be highlighted. Ismene, Antigone’s sister, is presented as the typical woman of the age. As such she is entirely against Antigone’s plan to act against the state. She asks her sister, “Shall we not perish wretchedest of all, / If in defiance of the law we cross / A monarch 's will?” (_Antigone). Even when compared with the dishonorable deaths of her family members, Ismene believes that going against the will of a monarch is worse. Ismene is the polar opposite of Antigone, she is complacent and law abiding where Antigone defies the law in accordance with her own values. This has taught her that she and Antigone are “weak women, [...], Not framed by nature to contend with men” (_Antigone). As the case of Ismene shows, faith in law, and the following the societal expectations, creates someone who is largely complacent. Ismene eventually does come around to her sister’s side, however Antigone stops her from taking the blame in her place. Happy loman is Ismene’s counterpart in Death of a Salesman, he is unwittingly the archetypical product of the system that Willy subscribes to. Happy is a serial womanizer, regarding them more as consumables than equals,
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