The Gods have not loved Thebes for some time. First, they threw the city into turmoil because of Oedipus and his forbidden marriage. They made their displeasure quite clear by making the Theban people suffer for the crimes of Oedipus. Once he met his fate and paid for those crimes, we, the Theban people thought that the turmoil would be over, and life could go back to normal. We thought once Creon took power, the clouds that had hovered over the city would vanish. This did not happen. However. The curse on the city begun by Oedipus bore fruit as his sons fought each other. All that happened was that the city was torn by a war between brothers. Far from working to make the situation better, Creon made things even worse when he chose to pit his strength against that of the Gods when he decreed that Polyneikes’s body be unburied, and when he ordered Antigone killed for honoring the Gods by caring for the body. While we cannot undo the past, we can and should make sure that the troubles which have afflicted the city end now. We can only do this by removing Creon from power. He has shown himself to be too proud, and has been punished severely for it. Both Creon’s pride and his punishment for it make him unworthy to remain in power, so he should be removed and replaced.
I have lived in Thebes all my life. I was there when Oedipus came to the city, and I was one of those who praised him for a hero. I was also there when he learned the dreadful secret of who his wife/mother was, and when the Gods punished him for his actions toward his parents. I mourned like everyone else at the suffering the Gods poured down upon us. I had hope that Creon, who was well-known in the city for being strong and firm in his efforts to put the city’s well-being first, could pull us out of that suffering. I heard him say that you could only judge a man when you saw him in action, “enforcing laws and making new ones” (210-11), and witnessed when he did just that. He attempted to make the city a safe place to live, lifting it up from the trouble that Oedipus had left behind. But I, like many others, was mistaken. What we thought was strength was pride. He thought himself above the laws even of the Gods. He made this clear when he refused to bury Polyneikes, and when he ordered Antigone killed. He was unwilling to listen to Tiresias, the prophet, until it was too late. He was justly punished for this refusal. In attempting to appear strong, Creon has shown that he does not have the sense to know that a man must follow the laws of the Gods, even though he may be the one who makes the laws on earth.
If he did not recognize the laws of the Gods in the case of Polyneikes, what is to convince us that he may not recognize until too late that he is breaking another one of the Gods’ laws? He has already shown that he is willing to break the Gods’ laws when he feels it necessary to do so once, why should we think it will not happen again? This is especially dangerous because he expects everyone within the city to break the Gods’ laws with him. He tells his son that citizens of a city should follow the laws of the King, even when they feel that those laws are unjust. This means that if Creon cannot distinguish between his own laws and the laws of the Gods, he will make the people of the entire city break the Gods’ laws right along with him. In Creon’s pride, he will bring disaster to the city now and in the future because he feels he is above the Gods.
However, even though he himself brought his sorrows upon his own head, I do feel sympathy for him. He has suffered too much tragedy. Whereas before he still acted and spoke like a strong young man, he now feels the full weight of his decisions and his sorrows. His pride in thinking himself above the Gods has brought him low. His wife and son are now dead, along with Antigone whom he eventually would have saved. He says that he is truly cursed, and he does not know on whose shoulders he can “lean his weight” (1507). I can feel his sorrow and his despair. I cannot imagine what he is going through right now, Having his entire family taken from him. But, is this not all the more reason he should be removed from power? Thebes, just now, coming out of the conflict caused by our God-cursed Kings, needs someone who does not need to lean his weight on anybody. We need a set of young strong shoulders to lean on ourselves, not shoulders bent by sorrow and chaos.
I know that there are those who will say that Creon could have been a great King, and I agree with them. Without his pride, he might have been great. I also know that many may say that he has learned his lesson. They will say that the very tragedy that has bent his shoulders has taught him the folly of not obeying the laws of the Gods, and that he will be a better King for the lesson. He does seem, in the end, to recognize that he has been a foolish, impulsive man (1500) who should obey the Gods. His pride has been beaten out of him by tragedy.
And yet, I say, having been taught his lesson through tragedy, he is no longer capable of being the great King he could have been. I say again, he has suffered too much tragedy. Even without his pride, he is not the King that Thebes needs right now. He acknowledges himself that he is cursed (1504). He has destroyed not only his family but himself through his disobedience. I do feel sorrow for him, but I also see that he cannot be any longer, if he ever was, the leader Thebes needs so badly.
Creon needs to be removed from power for his own sake, because he needs now to learn to live with the consequences of his actions, and for Thebes because the city needs a King who is strong without being prideful. Also, given what has happened to the people of this poor city over the past years, I would say that we need a King unrelated entirely to the family of Oedipus and the curse that lies upon them.