Compare Antigone and Oedipus

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Compare Antigone and Oedipus



In “Oedipus Rex” we encounter two fascinating characters namely; Oedipus and Antigone. The father and daughter duo are indeed similar in various aspects, and although they are similar, it is apparent that Antigone is more refined than her father in various ways. It is apparent that Oedipus is a rash character who fails to put much thought to his actions resulting in more passionate and irrational decisions. On the other hand, Antigone is a more strategic character as she critically evaluates her decisions and idea. The following document is a critical evaluation of two critical characters in “Oedipus Rex” to assert the argument that Antigone is indeed her father’s daughter and much more.




Oedipus is one of the main characters, whose character is that of great insight and swift action. The above qualities are used to portray Oedipus as an excellent ruler and king who greatly anticipates the needs of his subjects. Oedipus develops a plan to address the plague long before the citizens of Thebes argue him to intervene. At the time the citizens arrive at Oedipus, the king had already sent a delegation to the Oracle to seek the advice of how to address the plague. Indeed the character of Oedipus is impressive as a leader, but there is a negative aspect to his swiftness as it brings out his dangerous side. His dangerous nature is illustrated when he recounts the story of murdering a group of travelers who attempted to get him off the crossroads (Sophocles). It is apparent from this story that Oedipus’s rashness was indeed dangerous. Oedipus is portrayed as a confident character for various reasons; firstly Oedipus rescues Thebes form the Sphinx curse. As a result, he raises to the status of a King in a short period. Oedipus proclaims his name on numerous occasions as if to assert to himself that he is excellent. As “Oedipus the King” progresses his character varies between confidence and swiftness. For instance, in the scene where Oedipus interrogates and threatens to banish Creon and Tiresias. It is evident that Oedipus is highly active in his attempt to change his fate.




Antigone is indeed an accurate reflection of her father as she begins her scene in a similar decisiveness and swiftness as that of her father, Oedipus. In the first paragraph, she is already seen plotting to bury Polynices by defying Creon’s order. The most notable difference between Oedipus and his daughter Antigone is the fact that Antigone has the ability to keep track of past events constantly. Oedipus seems to forget his encounter with Laius as he defies Tiresias even though the prophet had willingly assisted him on numerous occasions (Sophocles). Antigone is displeased with her father, and it is visible in how she initiates her role by discussing the pain that Oedipus has handed down to his children. It is apparent that Antigone has the potential to be more dangerous than her father due to the fact that she is aware of her history. Antigone is more of a threat to Creon than Oedipus could ever be. Also, Antigone does not feel that she is in a vulnerable position where she could lose something as her family has been allotted an unfortunate fate. Antigone does not seem to fear death even in the hands of Creon’s despite Ismene being terrified by the thought. Antigone perceives her death as a glorious event as she is doing so for the sake of her brother. Despite Antigone’s attitude and determination to do right by her brother no matter the cost, it is apparent that the fate of her family haunts Antigone. Conversely, Antigone’s desire to die for the sake of burying her brother it is evident that she desires to be with him not as a sister but intimately as a man (Sophocles). It is critical to note that Antigone focuses on the difference between human and divine law.  Antigone plays an essential role in casting doubt over Creon’s authority when she argues that the cultures and habits of men cannot shake the will of the goods. It is at this point that she explains that Creon’s commands on Polynices’ burial ae ridiculous as well as shameful. It is intriguing how Creon perceives Antigone’s words as outburst and tantrums, but Tiresias arguments push him to perceive Antigone differently.

Nonetheless, it is critical to note that Antigone’s primary motivation for burying her brother Polynices are complex and diverse as they do not merely revolve around traditions or respect for the dead (Sophocles). Antigone asserts that brothers are special and she would not be willing to die for the sake of children or spouses as they are replicable, unlike brothers who cannot be replaced especially when the parents are dead. Antigone’s character is one that a woman desperate to maintain her connection with her family. Antigone’s fate is indeed unfortunate and somewhat horrific as Creon condemns her to a fate worse than death. Antigone walled inside a tomb while still alive. It is apparent that Creon intends on leaving her with enough food to ensure that the blood of Antigone is not on his hands or those of the people of Thebes. Antigone’s imprisonment is symbolic to represent that her feelings and loyalties are with the dead namely her father and brother.


Comparison Between Antigone and Oedipus Rex


Antigone and Oedipus the King display a tragedy through a combined presentation of pride, death, and punishment. Aristotle defines the concept of ignorance of the truth and tragic consequences of embracing the opposite. This is brought forth

Through the first sign of disaster towards the Oedipus Rex family. When Laius and Jocasta were first told about the prophecy that their son would be the cause of the plague to fall onto the family, they both tried to predestine their lives. The irony is that Laius and Jocasta desperately did not want to speak of the truth from the prophecy and as a result, their actions cultivated the path towards the tragic pattern for the rest of the family of Oedipus the King and Antigone (Thomas and Heather). As a result, the events mold the two characters as depicted by Aristotle of problems and inability to seek truth as the light of their lives. Within each event that occurs, there are actions that each character undertakes that culminate the reality of the prophecy. Following Oedipus Rex, the thought that going away from his ‘mother’ and ‘father’ the chances of killing his father and marrying his maternal parent would decrease (Sophocles).

Similarly, Antigone conducts the same patterns as well. Creon refuses to bury Polynices and Antigone is compelled through her pride, to go against the counsel of Creon and she goes ahead and buries her brother (Thomas and Heather). The  patterns indicate that each is trying to challenge each other’s authority. In numerous occasions, this is disastrous actions that both people play with death being the pivot to the comparison of each character. Further, murder and death fall upon Oedipus family. It is evident that death arises from the flaw hubris which is the main protagonist in both. Oedipus is the root of all the disaster due to his arrogance. He is unaware that he is the root cause of his father’s death and he condemns the ‘murderer’ to ruin. This is exhibited through the dramatic irony which Antigone also displays. Antigone possesses the same flaw as her father (Sophocles). But, her arrogance is coupled with pride in the name of ‘moral righteousness.’ The action is clear when she goes against Creon’s edict and wants to prove to Creon that she was not afraid of him.

Despite being portrayed as head-strong characters, it was evident that both Oedipus and Antigone do not think before they act. The actions lead to a lot of trouble down the line as well as heartache and not only for themselves but, for those who love them as well. Oedipus kills King Laius without his knowledge which allows him to become a king overnight. As a result, King Oedipus quickly promises to personally find the king’s slayer to save Thebes- who was arrested in connection to the death of the king. In another instance, King Oedipus loses his temper with Tiresias and Creon in an altercation when the two individuals advised the king to stop searching for the truth because no one could do so (Sophocles). The dismissal of Teiresias’s intimate knowledge of Oedipus’ past was purposefully overlooking the message and the signs of the prophecy that he killed his father and married his mother. The exposure of the truth and his need to overcome shame and grief and remorse pushed him to gouge out his eyes using Jocasta’s golden brooches. This was intensified with the results of knowledge of his true identity. Antigone, on the other hand, disobeys Creon by giving her brother a proper burial. Antigone’s stubbornness pushes her not to apologize for burying her brother Polyneices which goes against King Creon’s authority (Thomas and Heather). In her view, the god’s laws were higher than any man’s laws within which Creon was adamant in not burying Polyneices. Creon is angry and wants to achieve his duty by killing Antigone (Sophocles). Antigone is engaged to Haemon- Creon’s son- and tries to reason with Creon that killing Antigone would make him an unpopular leader. As a result, Creon accuses his son of disloyalty and sends Antigone to a tomb for defying his orders not to bury her brother. She is sent to the tomb with limited food which is regarded as the proper way of burying a person according to the Greek laws. Sadly, Antigone kills herself after being sentenced to life in a tomb. Consequently, Haemon kills himself.



 Work Cited

Sophocles, Sophocles. Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone. BoD–Books on Demand, 2019.

Thomson, Amy R., and Heather M. Patillo. “Greek Tragedies: Oedipus the King and Antigone (Grade 10).” (2016).