Antagonist Not Villain
Creon shows up in all three of Sophocles' Theban plays. He goes through quite a transformation over the course of the story. In Oedipus the King, he seems like a totally rational guy. His cool reason highlights Oedipus's hot temper. In Oedipus at Colonus he becomes the full-fledged smooth-talker he had in him all along. He attempts to sugarcoat his plea for Oedipus to return to Thebes, and could be seen as cowardly and weak when he kidnaps Oedipus’s daughters.
By the time Antigone rolls around, Creon, the play's antagonist, has become an absolute tyrant. His hyper-logical mind refuses to recognize the bonds of familial love that tie Antigone to her brother Polyneices. He rejects the irrational laws of the gods in favor the rational laws of man. It's interesting that the cool reason that seemed like such a good thing inOedipus the King now causes his downfall. Hmm, we detect the distinct scent of Sophocles' favorite dish: tragic irony.
One of the things that sets great tragedy apart from mere melodrama is that all the characters ultimately have good intentions. The plays become tragically ironic when these good intentions bring misery and horror for all. Though, it's easy to pigeon-hole Creon as a big mean man, persecuting his brave, innocent niece, it's just not that simple. In great tragedy, there are antagonists (like Creon) but there are rarely villains.
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