Antigone

This essay has a total of 1766 words and 8 pages.

Antigone


Antigone

It takes a lot of courage to stand up and defend an action or idea that is forbidden by
society. This is what Antigone does in Sophocles' story Antigone. She clearly disobeys
King Creon's order that no person should bury Antigone's brother, Polynices, which is
punishable by penalty of death. In this case, though, is Antigone's decision the correct
one? Her actions affect many of her other countrymen negatively; they cause problems
within the royal family, disagreement among the people and directly relate to the death of
three people including her own.


By burying her brother Antigone knowingly and willingly went against royal orders and in
doing so chooses her own death. She knows as well as anyone in the town that death would
come to all that disobeyed Creon's order. Antigone says to this "no one will ever convict
me for a traitor (page 61)," and decides to bury the body, this is quite ironic because by
burying her brother a traitor is exactly what she is convicted of being. Antigone's
activities were traitorous against her homeland, Thebes in that she acted for herself
instead of for the good of the country. Creon had declared that "Our country is our
safety. Only while she voyages true on course can we establish friendships truer than
blood itself. Such are my standards. They make our city great (page 68)." He says this
meaning that if everyone acted as a whole they would always prosper. If someone were to go
against go against the laws and ideals put forth by Creon it would only cause dissension.
When Antigone did go against the law this exactly what happened. Chaos would not have
ensued if she trusted her king to be right in his decision, just as all the townspeople
and her sister Ismene did.


Creon also had stated that one should not place a friend, in this case a brother, in front
of one's country. One could say that Antigone is selfish in her pursuits of doing so, for
although Polynices was Antigone's brother, he was planning to loot and destroy Thebes if
he was victorious in overtaking it. Further evidencing this idea, Polynices also killed
Antigone's other brother Eteocles who was faithful to Thebes until his death defending it.
Being that this is the case then why would Creon agree to a burial of a traitor who with a
foreign army invaded his homeland killing his own brother and would have sold his fellow
countrymen into slavery. Antigone response to this is that she wants to bury her brother
because that is the unwritten law of the gods, but Creon's decision is in light of his
belief in those same gods, for the gods never respect a traitor. It must seem
inconceivable to Creon that the gods would ever want a traitor like Polynices buried, let
alone with the same ceremony as his brother Eteocles. Creon believes in the gods of the
country and he is sure that he is acting in the best interest of Thebes. For if he had
decided to bury Polynices it would show him and his country as being week. It would send a
message that Thebes is a country that honors its traitors. This could put the country in
jeopardy of another attack.


One can argue that it is hypocritical for Antigone to walk knowingly into her death when
in the previous story Oedipus at Colonus she begged Polynices not to go to war when he
knew that he would die fighting Eteocles. Now her sister Ismene is doing the same thing by
begging her not to act foolishly. Antigone could have easily prayed for Polynices at her
lonesome, and many catastrophes would have been averted. Antigone, however reflecting the
stubbornness of her father Oedipus fails to see the flaws in her thinking. She also must
have known, or was unable to see through her clouded mind, that whatever she was to
accomplish by burying her brother was sure to be erased. More specifically as soon as the
body was buried, Creon would decree that it should be uncovered. Would it be worth it for
her to risk her life just so that her brother could be buried for a short amount of time?
Antigone does not care about dying for her dead brother and to this she says "and it even
if I die in the act, that death will be a glory. I will lie with the one I love and loved
by him- (page 63)." It would be quite likely though that her body would fall under the
same order, as Polynices', that no one shall be allowed to bury it after she became
deceased. If this came to be who would give her the proper burial being that she has no
children and is not married. She could be very well ruining her own afterlife in trying to
save her brother's. Polynices she also fails to see is already in trouble with the gods
for his wrongs on earth, and will most likely be punished by them. This could bring about
the possibility that she might never get the chance to be reunited with her brother in
during an afterlife in Hades.


Antigone's decision to bury her brother caused harm to many people. First she tried to
convince her sister Ismene to help her. She did this by trying to make Ismene feel guilty
if she did not; stating it was Ismene's brother too. She says after Ismene tells her she
is on a hopeless quest "If you say so, you will make me hate you and the hatred of the
dead, by all rights, will haunt you day and night (page 64)." This threat brings Antigone
farther apart from the only living family member that she has left. She has her mind set
so much on burying her brother that she will stop at nothing, not even threatening her
opposing sister to do it. Since Ismene has been through the same hardships as Antigone and
is just now starting to put her life back together it is understandable why she would not
want to go on this suicide mission. She would be sacrificing her own body for her
brother's dead one. After Antigone carries out with the deed Ismene now feels responsible
to die with Antigone. This sense of responsibility is probably the result of Antigone's
earlier threats and Ismene's fear of being without any family. When Ismene tries to also
accept the blame for the crime Antigone will not let her. Ismene then asks Antigone "what
do I care for life without you. Antigone replies "Ask Creon. Your concern is all for him."
Even when she knows that her fate is sealed Antigone is still mocking her sister who cares
for her immensely. She believes that anyone who obeyed Creon's law worships him instead of
the gods.

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