Oedipus Rex

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Creon Character Analysis

Brother of Jocasta. Whereas Oedipus is the charismatic leader who speaks openly in front of his people, Creon is more political and perhaps more scheming. Creon is offended and alarmed when Oedipus accuses him of treason, but he speaks calmly and tries to show the error of the accusation by appealing to Oedipus's sense of reason. At the end of the play, however, he is more than willing to step into the power vacuum after Oedipus's terrible fate has been revealed. Even then, however, he cautiously makes sure to follow the dictates of the gods, rather than to trying to resist fate as Oedipus has done.

Creon Quotes in Oedipus Rex

The Oedipus Rex quotes below are all either spoken by Creon or refer to Creon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Oedipus Rex published in 1982.
Lines 709-997 Quotes
Look at you, sullen in yielding, brutal in your rage—
you will go too far. It's perfect justice:
natures like yours are hardest on themselves.
Related Characters: Creon (speaker), Oedipus
Page Number: 746-748
Explanation and Analysis:

Oedipus permits Creon to leave without punishment. But as he departs, Creon shouts this condemnation of Oedipus.

His insult points again to the crippling pride in Oedipus’s personality. That he is “sullen in yielding” speaks to how reluctant he is to accept the calming advice of Jocasta and the chorus, while “brutal in your rage” reiterates how terrifying he is if allowed to fully unleash his frustration. Creon points again to how Oedipus is unable to mediate his response to the given situation based on whether he should be angry or accepting. As a result, he “will go too far,” or overreach what is permitted by his royal position.

Beyond reiterating Oedipus’s character flaws, Creon’s language also stresses that Oedipus’s fate is the result of his own faulty actions. Saying “it’s perfect justice” implies that Oedipus’s story is not the result of a pre-designed divine plot to unseat him, but rather is the natural and necessary result of his own arrogant behavior. Similarly, “natures like yours are hardest on themselves” places the burden of agency onto Oedipus’s “nature.” By Creon’s account, it is the tragic hero who brings fate on himself.

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Creon Character Timeline in Oedipus Rex

The timeline below shows where the character Creon appears in Oedipus Rex. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-340
Finding Out the Truth Theme Icon
Action vs. Reflection Theme Icon
...the trouble and has been trying to think of a solution. He has already sent Creon, his brother-in-law, to the oracle at Delphi to find out what the god Apollo advises.... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
Finding Out the Truth Theme Icon
Creon tells Oedipus and the assembled priests the words of the god Apollo, according to the... (full context)
Finding Out the Truth Theme Icon
Action vs. Reflection Theme Icon
Oedipus asks Creon about the circumstances of Laius's death. Creon says that Laius left the city to consult... (full context)
Lines 341-708
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
Sight vs. Blindness Theme Icon
Finding Out the Truth Theme Icon
Action vs. Reflection Theme Icon
Oedipus convinces himself that Creon has put Tiresias up to making these accusations in attempt to overthrow him. He mocks... (full context)
Sight vs. Blindness Theme Icon
Finding Out the Truth Theme Icon
Action vs. Reflection Theme Icon
Creon enters, upset that he has been accused of treachery. Oedipus enters. He launches further accusations... (full context)
Lines 709-997
Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
Finding Out the Truth Theme Icon
Action vs. Reflection Theme Icon
Jocasta tells Oedipus and Creon that it's shameful to have public arguments when the city is suffering. When she learns... (full context)
Finding Out the Truth Theme Icon
Action vs. Reflection Theme Icon
Moved by the chorus's expression of loyalty, Oedipus allows Creon to go free, though he says that he still doesn't believe that Creon is innocent.... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Jocasta asks how Oedipus's argument with Creon started. Oedipus tells her that Creon sent Tiresias to accuse Oedipus of Laius's death. Jocasta... (full context)
Lines 1311-1680
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
Action vs. Reflection Theme Icon
Creon enters. The Chorus expresses hope that he will restore order to Thebes. Creon forgives Oedipus... (full context)
Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
Creon then puts an end to Oedipus's time with his daughters, and again refuses to grant... (full context)