Sophocles Antigone: Polynices Character Analysis

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In Sophocles’ Antigone, Polynices never appears directly, but is one of the significant presences in the tragedy. Polynices is the reason for the downfall of the tragic hero, Creon, who is also the King of Thebes. Not only has one character been affected, but Polyneices’ death is the root of the preeminent conflict. Stated in the prologue, Polyneices has already been killed by his brother, Eteocles. This piece of background information is crucial because his death has generated a tremendous force on the plot and themes of the play.

The logic behind Polynices and Eteocles’ battle was because the King of Thebes, their father, Oedipus had died. Therefore they had to share the throne, however, Polynices did not condone this and assembled an army
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In Ancient Greece, it was believed that for a soul to reach the Underworld, it had to be buried properly (67). Referring back to the play, Polynices was not buried. Moreover, it would lead to the outcome that his soul would vanish. Antigone would not grant her brother to not be buried properly, which leads to her breaking Creon’s decree and creating a major conflict between the both of them. Creon was not fond of Antigone doing this and sends her to be starved to death in a chamber. With Creon being very stubborn, nobody could change his conjecture about burying Polynices; not even his own son, Haemon. Tiresias, a blind prophet, managed to make Creon change his stubborn mind and bury Polynices, but it was too late. Both, Antigone and Haemon, had already committed suicide. Antigone could not live her life suffering because of her brother, therefore she withdrew the punishment, which led to her taking her own life because she was not able to honor her brother in a proper burial. Not only did Antigone die for what she believed what right, but she sacrificed her own life for the gods’ law.

Divine law vs. man’s law and the “place” of women are two of the many main themes of Antigone. The theme divine law vs. man’s law is brought up when Antigone had asked
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Ismene is stuck in between choosing what is right and what is dishonoring/wrong; the right choice would be to follow the divine law, their gods law, or follow Creon’s law that goes against the gods’. Creon’s man law also proves that his tragic flaw was hubris; his excessive pride and belief that his power was unlimited caused a series of events that led to his tragic downfall. The theme of gender roles, especially the “place” of women, is very limited. “Burying and mourning their dead relatives gave women an opportunity to do something important for their families. It brought women to the fore and gave them a role to play” (67), this quote is proving that a Creon is limiting one of the few things women were allowed to at the time of their society, which was for Antigone to bury Polynices. This is the reasoning for Antigone not denying that she buried Polynices; she was taking the consequences for what she believed was right and knew it would make her brother and the gods proud (459-540). Therefore, he has taken away and limited her rights. Thus, making this is the main reason for the family rivalry between Antigone and
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