Creon shows the importance he places on male dominance in the lines of his opening speech “Better to fall from power, if fall we must, at the hands of a man – never be rated inferior to a woman, never. ” He sees anarchy as the inevitable consequence when feminie disobedience creates controversy with masculine political authority. He is determined to protect the order of civilisation by “defending the men who live by law, never letting women triumph”. Antigone’s fate is sealed as she loses all her feminie power when she is ultimately condemned to death.
Antigone depicts the convoluted process to attain and maintain power due to its allusive nature, hence representing powerplay. Creon believes that his kingly authority is supreme, prevailing every other moral code in his subjects’ lives. He governs on the conception that disobedience is treason and punishable by death. In order to sustain his political power he progresses from demarcating his concept of power to differentiating between the state’s advocate, who is to be ‘rewarded’ with burial, and denying burial to its assailant, despite that both are members of his family.
Creon sees all humans as either a comrade, if they obey his authority and support state edicts, or rivals and traitors if the state is not their first priority. He states that “As long as I am King, no traitor is going to be honoured with the loyal man”. Creon has an obligation to protect the interests of the state and to protect his own interests as a sovereign. He follows an ancient tradition of battle in denying the enemy, Polyneices, a proper burial. However, in doing so, he not only acts inhumanely, but as Sophocles reiterated throughout the play, displeases the gods.
As the play progresses, Creon displays the conventional characteristics of the tyrant – constant suspicion of conspiracies against him, a contemptuous disregard for the opinions of his subjects and a trivial vanity that cannot accept criticism. To him religious duties are secondary to the supreme sovereignty of the state and to the standard of human and political ethics. It is Creon’s pride which deters him from realising his act of foolishness before the chain of tragic events.
Irony is evident in Creon’s statement, the ‘heart, temper and mind of man’ are tested by ‘authority and rule’ and that ‘a king whose lips are sealed by fear, unwilling to seek advise’ is ‘no less damned than he who puts a friend above his country’. It is ironic as Creon acknowledges that it is imprudent to be obstinate and wilful, yet he does not recognise his tyrant characteristics due to his blindness. Creon’s fall at the end is ironic as he believed his prosperity were on the augment after his enthronement. However, he eventually concludes that even the most powerful king is powerless in the face of destiny.
Powerplay is evident in Antigone as Creon rules with pride and arrogance in a tyrannical fashion, inhibiting him from capitulating ensuing on his detrimental fate. Powerplay is represented in conflicting values, perspective and personalities as they struggle for authority and dominance. In Antigone, it can be seen that powerplay extends to all levels of human interactions through political, parental and male power. Sophocles not only reiterates the powers one person wields over another but also the consequences resulting from a controversy between opposing powers.