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Antigone?s True Meanings

Antigone and Oedipus, written by Sophocles, are dramatic plays with a tragic ending. The main theme for Antigone is that people sometimes have to learn the hard way from their mistakes. This theme is expressed in the final four lines of the play. They read,

There is no happiness where there is no wisdom;

No wisdom but in submission to the gods.

Big words are always punished,

And proud men in old age learn to be wise.

These lines are an important part of the play. They symbolize Creon?s bad decisions he made, his defiance to the gods, the punishment he went through because of his edict, and the wisdom he gained because of all his mistakes.

?There is no happiness where there is no wisdom? demonstrates how Creon not using wisdom in his decision affected him. By declaring that Polyneices could not have a proper burial, he went against the gods and the other citizens of Thebes?s beliefs. This was not a wise decision on his part, and because of it he lost his wife, his son, and his happiness.

Creon also defied the laws of the gods. This is what is expressed in the line, ?No wisdom but in submission to the gods.? In Antigone, the edict and decisions that Creon made demonstrated that his law was more important then the gods laws. His defiance of the laws eventually made him believe, by talking to Teirisias, that something bad would happen to him, so he gave in to his decision. When he gave into the gods he gained wisdom and learned that his actions would be punished.

Creons edict is considered his big words. In the third line it says, ?Big words are always punished.? Creons edict was punished by his loss of happiness. He proclaimed to his city that Polyneices may not be buried, when he did this he was very proud and demanding about his decision. He was determined not to change his mind for anything. These big words that he proclaimed would bring his downfall. Because Creon locked Antigone up, for burying Polyneices, she killed herself. Creon?s son Haimon, who was engaged to Antigone, also committed suicide upon seeing his beloved Antigone dead. Also Creon’s wife took her own life. If Creon hadn’t gone against what was right, by making his laws more important then the god?s laws, and issuing his edict, he would not have suffered the way he did. By getting involved in stopping Polyneices burial by his edict he brought upon his own terrible punishment.

The last line, “Proud men in old age learn to be wise” explains the main theme of Antigone. The proud man is Creon, the King of Thebes. By all the mistakes he makes he learns to be wiser. As a ruler he was a very proud man. He didn’t seem to care about anything as long as his commands were carried out. By losing his son and wife and probably the respect of many citizens of Thebes he grew wiser.

Creon’s bad decisions he made, his defiance to the gods, the punishment he went through because of his edict, and the wisdom he gained because of all his mistakes, all contribute to the main theme of Antigone, that people sometimes have to learn the hard from their mistakes. The explication of the final four lines of the play really give a better understanding of the theme that Sophocles was trying to get across to his audience.

Stephanie Dergosits


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