Demonstrations of power from Creon and Prospero play a very pivotal role in the plots of “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare and “Antigone” by Sophocles, two plays about power relations. Both Prospero and Creon are able to control the actions of those around them but instead abuse their power and use it as if they were gods. In the play “Antigone,” Creon, a king, uses his political power selfishly to rule over and force people to do what he wants. Prospero, from “The Tempest,” uses his magical powers to help his daughter and others, along with himself.
Sophocles and Shakespeare show the audience how power can be abused so easily and how power relations dictate the two plays, yet each play has very different outcome. In “Antigone”, Creon uses his royal power, more for his own personal gain, with no real regard for his people. Throughout the course of the play, Creon abuses his power despite being warned of wrong doings. The play even begins with Creon abusing his power when he settled a decree that prohibited anyone from burying Polyneices’ dead body, decreeing that “He’s to have no funeral or lament,/ but to be left unburied and unwept,” (Sophocles p.Order now
10). Creon is proud of his decree, and he also states that he would be a good king by listening to what people had to say concerning his decisions. When Antigone breaks the decree, Creon sentences her to death, which angers the gods. The gods want the dead body of Polyneices buried, and they do not want Antigone to be put in a cave. Antigone questions Creon’s power compared to the gods, ” I did not think/ anything which you proclaimed strong enough/ to let a mortal override the gods/ and their unwritten and unchanging laws.
” (Sophocles p. 27) Creon was told by Haimon to change his mind, but Creon rejects his request and buries Antigone alive anyway. Teiresias warns Creon that the gods were angry and his actions were to be blamed. Creon rejects both Haimon’s request and Teiresias’ warning. This shows how Creon was able to abuse his power so easily and acted as if he were just as powerful as the gods, causing him to suffer in the end. Another case of when Creon abuses his power is when he rejects other’s suggestions in the scene with his son, Haimon.
When Creon tells his son why Antigone is being punished, Haimon also rejects his father’s decision. Haimon believes that Antigone is not doing anything wrong, but instead, simply doing what the gods wanted. He respects his father, but he encourages him to change is stubborn ways, which is why Haimon asks Creon to “end your anger. Permit yourself to change. ” (Sophocles p38). Haimon kindly asks Creon to change his mind for once and accept what others had to say, but Creon looses his mind and refuses to accept what Haimon had to say.
Haimon tells of how Antigone’s death will only bring about the deaths of others, and Creon would never see him again. Creon claims that only he was right and yet again, he abuses his power for his own selfishness. After Haimon leaves, Teiresias, the blind profit, comes to tell Creon the gods are angry with him and that he is wrong in wanting to bury Antigone alive. Once more, Creon rejects the advice from a holy figure and does what he wants. Teiresias mentioned to Creon, just before he left, that he has dishonored the gods by putting Antigone into the cave. Teiresias tells Creon that is why evil will pursue him.
By the end of the play, Creon finds that Antigone, Haimon, and his wife Eurydice had committed suicide, all because of his abuse of power and stubborn ways. In “The Tempest,” Prospero, the main character, has the most power out of anyone. He is able to uses magical powers, which he gained by reading books on the supernatural. Prospero uses his powers not only to help his daughter and others, but sometimes, abuses it for himself. Prospero’s magical powers first come about when Miranda accuses him of starting the storm, “by your art thy dearest father, you have / put the wild waters in this roar.
” (Shakespeare p. 68). Many people may believe Prospero created the storm to hurt the others on the boat, but he actually creates the storm out of love for his daughter who is seeking a husband. Prospero sees Ferdinand, who is on board the ship, to be a great match for his daughter. Prospero makes sure that no one is harmed or injured by the storm by sending a spirit, Aerial, to lookout over the ship. Another way Shakespeare demonstrates power is through relationships, more specifically, master/servant relationships. One example of this is how Prospero is the master of Ariel and Caliban.
Although Prospero handles each of these relationships differently, both Ariel and Caliban are aware Prospero controls them. In the end of the play, Prospero gives up his powers and frees Ariel and Caliban from his control. In the case of both plays, the two protagonists have the ability to control the actions of those around them, one through shear will and the other through magical powers. In the tempest, magical power is used to bring morality to those who have seem to lost their way. It is used simply as a means to an end, and as a way to correct a wrongful act that had taken place years ago.
In the end, the act of Prospero giving up his power indicates that power should only be used to accomplish good acts and then not be used again. Creon, on the contrary, uses power without sound judgment or wisdom. The consequence of this abuse of power is that he loses everything at the end of the play, including his power within his own family. Even though the plots between the two stories are drastically different, the moral of the story is the same: power should only be used in times of necessity and with a moral code.