Antigone, one of the few full plays by Sophocles we know of today, deals with Antigone, Oedipus’s daughter as she goes against Creon’s law to bury her dead brother, an act she believes is worth it, for the Gods are more important than the law. The play focuses on the issues this situation put’s forward, namely, whether or not Polyneices deserve burial rights, whether someone who buried him against the laws of Creon should be punished, and if Creon should have the right to be king. This leads us to not only analyze these questions but also some of the main elements of the play. Firstly, since the issue surrounding the burial rights of Polyneices is dealt with early on in the play, the play focuses on the latter two questions. Should someone who defied the laws Creon put forward be punished?
The heroine, Antigone, defies the king’s decree regarding her dead brother and several important issues are raised. Among them are the importance of family ties versus loyalty to the state and the willingness to defy those in power in order to do what someone feels is right and proper. The play opens with a conversation between Antigone and her sister Ismene regarding the fate of their brothers Eteocles and Polynices. Polynices had deserted a battle line and in a fight with Eteocles, both were killed. Creon, The king of Thebes proclaimed that Eteocles should have an honored burial, but that Polynices was to be left unburied so that he may be eaten by wild animals.
The tragic hero/heroine was a person who went beyond ordinary behavior or thinking and was punished for it. They defied the decrees of the gods and fate. Sophocles’s Antigone, however rebellious, is admired for sacrificing herself to perform the burial rites for her brother, claiming that the state cannot override the religious law. In Anouilh’s version, religion is thrown out as a concern when Creon gets Antigone to admit that ritual is meaningless. The tragic conflict instead boils down to the individual (Antigone) standing up for her
A. The plot of both the plays, by Anouilh and by Sophocles circle around the story of a girl defying her uncle Creon (who also happens to be the king), in the face of death. They both go on to present the same story through a play, but with a difference. As in the ancient representation by Sophocles, in Anouilh’s play too, Antigone buries Polynices (her brother) regardless of Ismene's (Antigone’s sister) advice. She disobeys Creon’s direct orders, and the king commands her death.
Antigone, the sister of both Polynices and Eteocles believes that both brothers have the right to be buried, because she loves them both. Going against the rule of the king, Antigone buries Polynices. By doing this, she stands by her original beliefs and is willing to accept all consequences that accompany burying her brother. Within the first lines of the tragedy, Antigone confronts her sister with her idea of burying Polynices. Her sister, Ismene, opposes Antigones decision to go against the kings orders and bury their brother.
To Creon she was arrogant because she would not do anything she was told even though it came from him, the king. Heroes must also have a downfall which evokes the audience pity, which in this case is when Antigone dies fighting for her brothers proper burial rights. After arguing so much with Creon about what seems to be right. She decides to take a chance and bury her brother properly after being denied to do so. She is locked up and sentenced to death by Creon.
Antigone’s refusal to lay down and follow the king’s command shows an aggressive side of Antigone. By returning to the body a second time to perform the funeral rites, provides the reader with a view into Antigone’s railing against one of the essential rules laid out in her culture. The reader is provided with a traditional look into gender roles through the character Ismene. Ismene is more subservient and docile than Antigone. Ismene mentions that she is unable to defy the State, while Antigone feels that she must break the law in order to honor her brother.
This act of disobedience eventually led to political and legal reform in Ancient Greece. The plays carry the idea that even in the ancient times, women have the possibility through self-realization that they can be as strong and wise as men. Although living in the maid-dominated society of Ancient Greek Theban where women were subject to subservient roles, young, teenage Antigone challenged not only the royal power of Creon, the ruler, but also his masculine power as well, by speaking against his policy that violates divine traditions. All throughout the play, Creon repeatedly accused Antigone, more because of her gender than her act of disobedience of his order forbidding burial of her brother. Until the very end of the play, Antigone stays unshaken, showing to the audience of Ancient Greece that women can be equal to men, as wise and strong as a male, and in her case, even more.
Antigone’s tragic flaw is that she is too passionate and strong-willed for her own good. She insists on burying her brother, Polyneices, even when the king forbade it. When asked why she ignored his demand Antigone replied, “I dared. It was not God’s proclamation” (783, 64-65). Antigone is telling Creon that rather than listen to his man made laws that she would rather follow the higher authority of the God’s.
Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, is left torn between state of family, and in the end, chooses family over state. Disregarding Creon's edict with grave danger to herself, Antigone ventures to bury the body of Polyneices, and thus begins her adventure. Antigone is truly a tragic hero, marked by her station as son of Oedipus, and her proud and perhaps arrogant characteristics which will lead to her eventual, inevitable, tragic ending. At the start of her tale, Antigone is the daughter of royalty, but more then that, a daughter of a horrible tragedy: through an unwitting horror story, her father, Oedipus, was also her brother, as Oedipus was married to his mother before she killed herself upon discovering the truth. Before his death, Oedipus had blinded himself, adding to the tragedy.
She is willing to die for her brother. She feels that every person has the right to have a proper burial no matter what. Speaking to Creon, she said, “ ‘isn’t a man’s right to burial decreed by divine justice? I don’t consider your pronouncements so important that they can just overrule the unwritten laws of heaven”. It is disgusting for dead Thebans to be left lying above ground and exposed to ravaging weather and scrounging wildlife.
For that reason, you might say that I am like Antigone. When Antigone states, “So be what you want. I’ll bury him” (Sophocles), Antigone decides to go against the law, and as a result, she is frowned upon. Like to Antigone, I decided not to participate in a shrill act despite the amount of peer pressure I experienced. I chose to follow what I believed in and stood up for an innocent person.
Antigone believes so strongly that she is morally justified and bound by family duty to bury Polynices that she boldly breaks the law knowing she will face the ultimate consequence. “I dared, it was not God’s proclamation. That final Justice that rules the world below makes no such laws. Your edict, King was strong, but all your strength is weakness itself against the immortal unrecorded laws of God. They are not merely now: they were and shall be, operative forever, beyond man utterly (Sophocles).” Antigone defied the laws of man because she believed in the higher law of Gods that she had the right to bury her brother.
I realize that the council may have concerns about reversing the decree against Antigone. As Kreon is the king, what he says is law; “No one in Thebes may bury him or mourn for him.” Anyone who disobeys his laws is subject to the consequences of their actions. Antigone openly defied him by burying her brother, and therefore deserves to be punished for her behavior. Her obvious defiance insulted Kreon’s authority. Also, by reversing Antigone’s sentence, Kreon and the state are implying that they have chosen to agree with her viewpoint and honor her brother, who is a traitor in the eyes of the state.
Antigone’s sense of judgment grew more and more unclear due to her pride as she ignores Ismene’s advice to bury their brother in secret, but instead she tells Ismene, “oh, oh, no! shout it out. I will hate you still worse for silence-should you not proclaim it, to everyone” (2040). Her pride is also the source of her bravery that enables her to accept her fate and believes that it will be good to die and lay by her brother’s side to stand up for her beliefs. Antigone’s inhibitions grew even stronger when she is summoned to face her uncle, Creon, about her disobedient actions.
Antigone’s family had clearly gone through much misfortune, but as her own life was giving way to a more prosperous future, Antigone chose a very dangerous path. Antigone is angered by the treatment of her brother’s body and seeks help to bury Polynieces from her sister Ismene. Antigone asks of Ismene “Wilt though aid this hand to lift the dead?” Antigone has set her course. As Ismene asks of her “Thou wouldst bury him,- when tis forbidden to Thebes?” Antigone replies “I will do my part, and thine if thou wilt not, - to a brother, false him will I never be found.” At possessing the knowledge that the king will not tolerate a burial, Antigone is none the less determined to undertake the task regardless of the consequence. Antigone is not content to leave this detail to fate.
However, if he follows through with Antigone’s punishment of stoning he will upset her and all those who felt her actions were correct. Many people agreed that burying Polynices was the right thing to do. Consequently, Creon not only has to deal with the difficulties of being king, but the reality of punishing his niece. Ultimately Creon is driven by his pride and refuses to be defied as King, orders Antigone to be put in a cave. In addition, the death of Haemon must also come to rest on Creon’s shoulders as his actions brought it about.
Those who are not given a proper burial will rot where they are left and be eaten by dogs in disgrace. Although Antigone was right for wanting Polyneices to have a proper burial because he was family, Creon was trying to take that right way from her as one of the few things women were allowed to do was mourn the dead. Creon abused the power he had and in the end, he only hurt himself. Creon’s order offended some people which made many citizens think of him as a power hungry tyrant. Creon sternly states “Polyneices,” he says, “is to have no burial: no man is to touch him or say the least prayer for him; he shall lie on the plain, unburied; and the birds and the scavenging dogs can do with him whatever they like” (1329).
Antigone, showing true loyalty to her family, elected to bury the body of Polyneices, though it was against the law. She did this knowing she would die; she laid her life on the line for someone else, displaying a true act of altruism. When hearing this tale of courage, Greek children must have been influenced, in some way, to be giving and selfless towards others. We can see the importance of altruism displayed in Theseus and the Slaying of the Minotaur. The story tell of Theseus and how he goes about slaying the Minotaur, clearly, but one can recognize altruism in Theseus’ acts as well.
Antigone seeks kleos and dies for her beliefs while Lucretia wishes to protect her kleos and dies to maintain her chasity. Antigone and Lucretia seek different things but in similar ways and they obtain these seeking’s by taking on temporary masculine roles. In Antigone, her ekthroi (enemy) equates to her uncle who also serves as the state. “I would never have defied the citizens to do this labor if the oozing corpse were that of my own child, or if my husband lay there dead. In satisfaction of what law do I say this?