Antigone and Oedipus, written by Sophocles, are dramatic plays with a tragic ending. The main theme for Antigone is that people sometimes have to learn the hard way from their mistakes. This theme is expressed in the final four lines of the play.
They read, There is no happiness where there is no wisdom; no wisdom but in submission to the gods.” Big words are always punished, and proud men in old age learn to be wise. These lines are an important part of the play. They symbolize Creon’s bad decisions, his defiance to the gods, the punishment he went through because of his edict, and the wisdom he gained because of all his mistakes.
There is no happiness where there is no wisdom” demonstrates how Creon’s lack of wisdom affected him. By declaring that Polyneices could not have a proper burial, he went against the gods and the beliefs of the other citizens of Thebes. This was an unwise decision on his part, and as a result, he lost his wife, his son, and his happiness. Creon also defied the laws of the gods, which is expressed in the line, “No wisdom but in submission to the gods.”
In Antigone, the edict and decisions that Creon made demonstrated that his law was more important than the gods’ laws. His defiance of the laws eventually made him believe, by talking to Teiresias, that something bad would happen to him, so he gave in to his decision. When he gave in to the gods, he gained wisdom and learned that his actions would be punished. Creon’s edict is considered his big words. In the third line, it says, Big words are always punished.” Creon’s edict was punished by his loss of happiness.
He proclaimed to his city that Polyneices may not be buried. When he did this, he was very proud and demanding about his decision. He was determined not to change his mind for anything. These big words that he proclaimed would bring his downfall. Because Creon locked Antigone up for burying Polyneices, she killed herself. Creon’s son Haimon, who was engaged to Antigone, also committed suicide upon seeing his beloved Antigone dead.
Also, Creon’s wife took her own life. If Creon hadn’t gone against what was right by making his laws more important than the gods’ laws and issuing his edict, he would not have suffered the way he did. By getting involved in stopping Polyneices’ burial through his edict, he brought upon his own terrible punishment. The last line, Proud men in old age learn to be wise,” explains the main theme of Antigone.
The proud man is Creon, the King of Thebes. Through all the mistakes he made, he learned to be wiser. As a ruler, he was very proud and didn’t seem to care about anything as long as his commands were carried out. However, losing his son, wife, and probably the respect of many citizens of Thebes helped him grow wiser. Creon’s bad decisions, defiance of the gods, punishment due to his edict, and the wisdom he gained from his mistakes all contribute to the main theme of Antigone: that people sometimes have to learn the hard way from their mistakes.
The explication of the final four lines of the play really gives a better understanding of the theme that Sophocles was trying to convey to his audience.