Contrary to the traditional definition of a foil, Creon is a foil to himself in Oedipus the King and Antigone, demonstrating the corrupting influence of power. Showing one man’s life perfect, serving his King till blasphemy reasoning and being blood thirsty for power overtakes his actions until it is to late. In the two plays written by Sophocles (Oedipus the King and Antigone),Creon displays hypocritical mannerisms in Antigone, the sequel of Oedipus Rex. In the First play of the Oedipus Cycle, Oedipus the King Creon acts humane wishing peace from the Gods and eluding controversy with their punishment of the plagues.
He listens more than speaks but does so with wisdom and calmness, never easy to anger and does not portray himself as jealous of power. In Oedipus the King, Creon states he is quite content and would not want the cares and responsibilities that come with being king (Cook 32). This shows how in the third book of the Oedipus cycle, Antigone, Creon acts as a foil towards himself. He does so by craving authority as king and being inhumane by sentencing anyone to death that disobeys his higher and unwritten laws from the Gods (Bain).
In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus weeps to Creon after Iocaste kills herself finding out she married her own son and bore children. Oedipus states to him, “Creon, son of Menoikeus! You are the only father my daughters have, Since we, their parents, are both of us gone forever. They are your own blood: you will not let them fall into beggary and loneliness; you will keep them from the miseries that are mine! Take pity on them; see, they are only children, friendless except for you. Promise me this, Great Prince, and give me your hand in token of it. ”Cook 52-53)
Creon takes his hand and confirms he promise therefore obligating himself to being Godfather and protector of Antigone, Ismene and the rest of Oedipus’ children. If Creon is as noble as he seems and is great enough to hold the position of King, why would he not give one of his Godsons a proper burial and put his Goddaughter to death, as well as her innocent sister Ismene for a law that is not even written? Although Antigone disobeys Creon’s word not to bury the body of Polyneices, he made a promise on Oedipus’s death bed he would be the protector of his children, not sentence one to death and the other just for simply knowing the crime.
In Oedipus Rex, after Creon becomes King he acts with compassion towards the repentant Oedipus (Overview). If Creon displays his clemency towards a man who just killed his father, married his mother and bore children why could he not have the heart to forgive or waiver the crime of Antigone? Antigone committed the crime out of love for her brother as well as justice. She states to Creon, “It was not God’s Proclamation. That final Justice that rules the world below makes no such laws. ” (Fitts, Fitzgerald 203) Basically saying that no man can make an un-written law not to give a proper burial to a soldier even though he killed his own brother.
Just because Creon was angered at Polyneices, he did not give him the burial that he deserved. Creon proves to have changed with authority and newly obtained power from when before he became king. The focus thus split between the king’s principle and his ego results in a somewhat confused presentation of his rules of conduct. Yet, the initial confusion seems understandable in a new king anxious to establish his authority (O’ Brien 32) Another reason why Creon seems to abuse his power is to cover up his flaws. That is why in the end of the book Tiresias tells his prophecy and Creon acts upon it with haste in knowledge of his wrong doing.