Haemon’s Speech Analysis
Haemon’s Speech Analysis Pride and stubbornness can be harmful things, and Haemon touches upon this within his speech to Creon as he attempts to dissuade his father from taking Antigone’s life. Using rhetorical devices such as tone, ethical, emotional, logical appeal, and metaphor, Haemon manages to make an impact on Creon’s eventual decision as he speaks in Antigone’s defense.
Starting at the beginning of his speech, Haemon ventures to convince Creon to change his mind about his harsh ruling against Antigone, not by raising his voice or attempting to beat his “earnest” views into his father, but by using great tact and endeavoring to find a common ground with Creon, possibly trying to understanding his father’s position on the matter at hand. First, Haemon alleges that reason is “God’s crowning gift to man”, and that his father is “right” to “warn [him]” against losing that reason.
He even keenly asserts that he never wants to say that “[Creon] has reasoned badly”, continuing on to make other mindful concessions.
However, when this thoughtful mode of speaking doesn’t take any immediate effect, Haemon starts to become more candid with his words, implying (although not directly) that Creon’s actions are unjust and stubborn, taking care to adopt a point of view that is constructively criticizing as opposed to being completely insulting. He rationally cautions his father against the mindset of him having all of “the power”, noting that if Creon continues upon that path he will eventually “turn out” an “empty” man.
He states that even people like his father must be able to stop, listen, and learn from others—not be completely fixed and “unchangeable”, because no man in the world is completely infallible. A few lines later in the speech, in addition to his amiable tone, Haemon also begins to use some emotional appeal, acknowledging his love and respect for his father, affirming that “nothing [is] closer to [him] than [his father’s] happiness”, and that he “values his father’s fortune” as much as his own.
Haemon also logically recognizes his youthfulness and lack of wisdom as well, although he astutely uses what the people of Thebes have been “muttering and whispering” to support his argument, using aspects of ethical appeal to attest that Antigone’s innocence is what the people of his father’s city would want, realizing that while Creon would like first and foremost to be a good ruler, e also wishes to be well-liked by his people. Then coming to closing lines of his speech, Haemon begins to weave in clever metaphors here and there, first comparing a “stubborn tree” being “torn up” and then a “fast” and “never-slackened sail” going “head over heels and under” the water to his father, indicating that this is the type of thing what will happen if Creon thinks that he alone “can be right”.
And in the very end, Haemon leaves his father with some loaded words, advising that Creon listen to him, because while “men should be right by instinct”, “[they] are all too likely to” be led astray, and that the smartest thing would be to learn from those who can are willing to teach them how to stay, or even make their own paths, in life.