In many dramas, the main characters that have been fighting and rebelling against some social institution are defeated by death or compromise in who they are and what they believe in or in what they were fighting for, such as in Antigone and Romeo and Juliet. The well known drama Antigone, by Sophocles, portrays and explores the rebellion of the protagonists against the law. The law, that Creon has created, states that who ever decides to defy Creon and bury Polynices, honoring him and morning him, will be punished with death. Antigone, one of Polynices siblings, struggles against this law because she thinks that everyone should be honored by the Gods law and not a man-made law, which dishonors the Gods, and this belief leads Antigone to rebel to her defeat and death. We known that Antigone dies but does that death show a defeat or does the actions and words which are said before show her compromising what was so important to her to begin with for the material things of the world? Many people say that she wasnt defeated because she died and others say that she compromised her morals.
The social institution within this drama, the institution which is rebelled against by the protagonist, is the law which Creon has laid down. Eteocles, who died fighting for Thebes, excelling all in arms: he shall be buried.. But as for his brother, Polynices, a proclamation has forbidden the city to dignify him with a burial, mourn him at all. This meant that the two sisters, Antigone and Ismene, could only honor one brother, not the other but this went again what Antigone believed, It wasnt Zeus, not in the least, who made this proclamation-not to me. Nor did that Justice, dwelling with the gods beneath the earth, ordain such laws for men. She believed that every man and women should be honored before the gods, letting them decide whether that honor is worthy when they dead rise up to their world. Antigone follows the natural law and she seems to be the only one because she shows and stands up for what she believes is right but there would be many other Thebans that would have the same point of view as her but she points out that they would dare not stand up for their beliefs, as their lips are locked in fear. Creons law has control over his empire and this is one of the reasons why he created it. He commands the townspeoples respect for the throne and tells them that all their loyalty must be given to him. The first episode clearly states what Creon expects from his people but it also says this, ..and refuses to adopt the soundest policies but fearing someone, keep his lips locked tight, hes utterly worthless. This is why the people of Thebes keep their lips locked tight, because within the creation of Creons law was also the threat that if they went against anything that he said, may them then fear him, because he will find them guilty and sentence them to death.
Antigones struggle is against the law that Creon has laid down and how it tells the citizens of Thebes who they can and cannot bury and honor. At the start, Antigone believes that if you do not bury a man or woman, then you will face the retribution of the gods because you havent obeyed their law. Antigone follows the gods law and buries her brother with the proper honor of the gods thus breaking the law that Creon had laid down. Antigone knew that if she got caught, she would be killed, but she would rather honor her brother and the gods than bow down to a man-made law. She treated the prospect of death as a reward, Enough. Give me glory! What greater glory could I win than to give my own brother burial? All the glory is hers because she buried her brother; she broke the man-made law but abided by the natural law. She says to Creon that his law would never override that of the gods. Nor did that Justice, dwelling with the gods beneath the earth, ordain such laws for men. Nor did I think your edict had such force that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods, the great unwritten, unshakeable traditions..These laws-I was not about to break them, not out of fear of some mans wounded pride, and face the retribution of the gods. Many times throughout the play Antigone and Creon clash head to head and what Antigone says is very important to her character. In saying this to Creon, Antigone is telling him that no matter what his law was, she would not abide by it if it breaks the law of the gods. Her rebellion, therefore, is not against the gods but against Creon and he sees this as a threat. These citizens here would all agree, they would praise me too if their lips were not locked in fearThey see it just that way but defer to you and keep their tongues in leash. Antigone is saying that if the citizens in Thebes werent afraid of Creon and his death penalties then they would be backing her up in what she did and how she acted. Antigone rebels against the social institution for herself and her beliefs but also for the citizens of Thebes.
It is clear that Antigone is defeated by death and that slowly, as the time drew closer, she started to think about what this death meant and what she would miss out on, denied all joy of marriage, rasing children-deserted so by loved ones, struck by fate, I descend alive to the caverns of the dead. Her ideas and beliefs start to change and she compromises what she once believed in, Antigone starts to compromise herself. She begins to think about all the events in life that she will miss out on, having children, being loved by a man, being married and growing old but she then remembers about what is right and what she has believed for a long time and throws herself into the arms of the gods and their laws. Very well, if this is the pleasure of the gods, once I suffer I will know that I was wrong. Though she remembers why she has given herself to death and thinks that death is a glorified punishment if it meant that her brother got a proper burial, she starts to think that if she does suffer and the darkness takes her, shell know that she should have just obeyed Creons law and this is the defeat that is reached by the protagonist, or Antigone.
Drama does portray a rebellion of a protagonist against a social institution, whether it is against the law, as it is in Antigone, or against another social institution. Antigone struggles against two laws, a natural law made by the gods or a man-made law created by Creon and the fight which she has to face leads to her destruction, compromising what she, her character, is and being defeated by death because it is a lots cause. Antigone, as a play and a character, explores many different aspects of rebellion in numerous forms and this rebellion, as in any drama, against the law, the church or family ended in a compromise and a defeat of the protagonist, Antigone.