A venerated tragedy of the Classical Greek theatre and a highly controversial drama of nineteenth century Europe inhabit the same thematic territory. What links Antigone, by Sophocles, and A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen is their examination of relations between men and women. In both works, the major male character embodies an idea that, in turn, powerfully affects other characters. Despite their major male differences, Creon and Torvald Helmer address the challenge of how men and women are to live together in harmony. .
Ruler of Thebes in the wake of war, Creon cherishes order and loyalty above all else. He cannot bear to be defied, any more than he can bear to watch the laws of the state defied. "Never at my hands/will the traitor be honored over the patriot." (Sophocles 232-233) He has Polyneices' body defiled while Eteocles is honored because Creon feels that he cannot treat both brothers equally when one was a traitor and the other was loyal. Creon is in many ways a sympathetic character, but he often abuses his power. His faults do not necessarily lie in a lust for power; often, he has noble intentions. "Of course you cannot know a man completely, /his character, his principles, sense of judgment,/ not till he's shown his colors, ruling the people, making laws." (194-197) He is completely loyal to the state, but he is subject to human weakness and poor judgment. He does not recognize that other forms of justice exist, and in his pride he condemns Antigone, defies the gods, and brings ruin on himself. The role of women in Creon's eyes is also an essential idea that embodies him throughout Antigone. He believes men have a superior authority over all women, "Better to fall from power, if fall we must, / at the hands of a man - never be rated /inferior to a woman, never." (759-761) Creon's ideas of gender role lead his family and himself to unfortunate disaster. .
Although Creon believes himself to be an exceptional ruler and a superior being over women, his beliefs affect the lives of many in Antigone.