Antigone is Oedipus
Referring to the character Antigone in line 525 of the play Antigone
, the LEADER states, "Like father like daughter..." This suggests that Antigone, in some way, "takes after" her father or shares the same character
. Another way of stating this idea is, "she is her father's daughter."
This is an essay I wrote regarding Antigone's completion of her father's role. Is she Oedipus incarnate?
Antigone is Oedipus’s ultimate accomplishment. She is the one who restored her family’s reputation and rekindled the fading glory of Oedipus that once shone over all the people in Thebes. She possesses the characteristics of her father: decisiveness, courage, pride, and a sense of righteousness, and through these traits she manages to recapture the respect and support of the masses, just like Oedipus once did, through her achievements. “The daughter is as headstrong as the father. Submission is a thing she’s never learned,” remarks the Leader of the Chorus.
We see similarities between Antigone and her late father, Oedipus, in Sophocle’s Antigone. She and her father both struggle to do what is right, while knowing in advance that they are doomed. Perhaps it is because Antigone spent her entire early life at Oedipus’s side and picked up his traits, or maybe she just inherited them, or maybe both. Nevertheless, no matter how or when she attained these characteristics, it is undeniable that at the time of her death, she possessed them to as equal a degree as her father. She faced death boldly, in order to stand up for herself and what she believed in. Oedipus’s trust in the gods’ advice led to his death, when he willingly sacrificed himself in order to help his friend Theseus. Antigone sacrificed herself too, in order to provide a proper burial for her brother, even though her brother had not done many things to earn such kindness. Still, she does, because she believes it is the right thing to do. Attempts made to change her mind fail, because she knows that it is the Heaven’s law, and that it takes precedence over all laws made by mortals on Earth. “Please your fantasy and call it wicked, what the gods call good,” she says to her sister Ismene, who desperately tries to protest. Antigone’s confidence is unfailing; she is sure that there is no way that she could be doing wrong.
This is another trait of Oedipus. Some call it arrogance, but I say self-righteousness. Oedipus never succumbed to sweet talk, fear, or selfishness. Even though he could have lived a much more comfortable life when Creon offered him a chance to return to Thebes, he turned it down because he knew it was a manipulative move and in the end, possessing no virtue. When he was offered a chance to make amends with his son, he rejected it because he saw his son was worthless and pathetic. Antigone thinks similarly. When she was told by Creon that her sentence was death for the illegal burial of her brother, she smugly responded, “I need no trumpeter from you to tell me I must die, we all die anyway. And if this hurries me to death before my time, why, such death is a gain. Yes, surely gain to one whom life so overwhelms.” What courage: boldness even in the face of great danger. She taunts her uncle’s authority when she speaks of higher powers that will recognize what she has done for the dead and reward her. Such faith in one’s own actions is rarely heard of. It can only be the influence of Oedipus, who also believes himself to be infallible at heart.
In the end, we see that Antigone lived for her father while he was alive, lived as father after he died, met her doom like her father, and won back respect like her father. Yes, in the end, everyone respected Antigone. She truly was her father’s daughter: the extension of the lineage, and the only one that preserved the most defining elements of Oedipus’s character. She left in full splendor, waving to the crowd as she was marched to her death, blazing with pride for both herself and her father. At last, the great line of Oedipus had fallen. Yet the end was glorious: there was not a trace of shame left. No one could deny that...not even Creon.
Other essays of interest concerning the Theban plays:
Oedipus as a Ruler
Oedipus isn't Guilty?