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Haimon in Antigone

Sophocles’ Antigone tells a beautiful story of a woman who fights for her brother, Polynices, to be buried after her uncle and King, Creon, has declared that Polynices’ body will remain unburied for his ‘blasphemy’ towards the state. For the culture this is dishonorable. Disobeying her uncle, Antigone goes ahead and buries her brother with miserable consequences. As characters are introduced to the plot, their purposes are clear, but one character may stand ambiguous in purpose; Antigone’s fiancé Haimon for instance. But Haimon plays a very crucial role within the play, both conveying the true feelings of state and sympathizing with Antigone’s cause.

Haimon as heir to the throne of Thebes remains very close with his father, but as fiancé to Antigone, Haimon is torn as to advise his father whom he holds high. Therefore Haimon’s advisement starts timid: “I cannot say [father] that you have reasoned badly. Yet there are men who can reason too; and their opinion might be helpful.” Haimon’s clear drive to change his father’s mind is exhibited upon his first entrance in the play. “You are not positioned to know everything…” says Haimon, for his father has stubbornly sentenced Antigone to be stoned to death, but Haimon is stern to tell of the country’s feelings towards the matter. “I have heard them muttering and whispering in the dark about [Antigone.] They say no woman has ever, so unreasonably, died so shameful a death for a generous act…this is the way they talk out there in the city.” Haimon clearly informs his father of the people’s disapproval of the King’s actions.

Haimon serves as the only person to stand up to Creon. Clearly no resolution is brought about after the two have quarreled. But Haimon does in fact have a small effect on Creon, for Antigone’s sentence is changed for a much less demeaning one. Haimon’s presence is the only firm stand against Creon’s through the entire play. And this ‘stand’ roots guilt within Creon that serves as motivation for the character.

The final straw is pulled as the prophet Teiresias comes to Creon announcing his similar distaste, and bears a prophecy of tragedy. Creon is finally swayed to retract his horrible sentence but is too late, Antigone has killed herself, Haimon has killed himself, and Creon’s wife of the news kills herself. Everyone around Creon who had shared loved for one another have passed. And Haimon’s purpose is finally clear and digested.

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