Antigone or Creon? Which Side Are You On?

Antigone at her brother's grave, from the Louvre

In the confrontation of Creon and Antigone we see the clash of two absolute principles: the claims of the individual conscience in opposition to the interests of the state. Both of them are absolutely determined to do what they deem right, no matter what the consequences will be. Both of them can be considered as stubborn and perverse. Do you sympathize with Antigone? Or do you think she is stupid and ridiculous? Why is Antigone so obsessed with glory? Should she be? When Creon talks about the gods and the law, is he talking about the same kinds of gods as Antigone does? At the end of the play, do you sympathize with Creaon, or do you think that he is a misogynist dictator who gets what he deserves? How do you choose a side, Creon or Antigone?


Ulysses and Colonialism

Cunning is one of Odysseus's most essential traits. While it is impossible to hear the seductive songs of the Sirens and not succumb to them, Odysseus is cunning enough to come up with a way to fulfill his desire but not being destroyed by the Sirens's power. Bound to the mast and therefore unable to be physically drawn to the Sirens, he commands his sailors (with their ears stopped with wax) to oar while he freely and safely enjoys the song of the Sirens.

While we may praise and admire Odysseus's courage and wit in his series of adventures, we can also say that he is deeply manipulative in his encounters with elemental deities, displays his colonial desire by subjugating and exploiting nature, and simply uses the enforced toil of his oarsmen to fulfill his desire for conquest. In other words, he can be said to represent the very archetype of the imperialist.

In Alfred Tennyson's poem "Ulysses," can you discern this similar imperialist trait in the portrait of Ulysses? Since the Victorain age is the period in which the British military achievement is glorified and the supremacy of "white races" is justified in the bloody subjugation of "lower" and primitive races, Tennyson, being a Victorian poet, must be aware of the spirit of his era and express this awareness in his poem. Pick up some lines in the poem that betray his "imperialist unconscious" and explain their relevance.