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Antigone Compared to Brutus Essay


In Sophocles play, Antigone, and William Shakespeares play, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, both Sophocles and William Shakespeare respectively show Antigone and Brutus, the main characters in Antigone and The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, their struggle with the consequences of their actions. In both plays, the main characters have to deal with the consequences from the act of choosing what they think is the right thing to do. Although both Antigone and Brutus can compare through the way both their attempts to do the right thing by breaking the law ends in tragedy, some differences that exists between them can be seen through each characters unique situations and how they respond to peer pressure.

Through the situations of the two most dynamic characters in their respective plays, Antigone and Brutus, one can see that they can both compare through the way both of their attempts to do right end in tragedy. Antigones tragedy that results, due to burying her brother Polynecius, occurs when she, Had made a noose of her fine linen veil/ And hanged herself (Sophocles, V, Exodus, 66-67, 805). Although Antigone does her best to do what she thinks is morally right, the effects of the way she is treated shows plays a role in her decision to kill herself. Since her decision to do right ends in her death, the consequences of her decision to bury her brother can be described as a tragedy, which is similar to Brutuss scenario. For Brutus, his tragedy that results from his decision to help assassinate Julius Caesar is described when Messala, Brutuss servant asks, How died my master, Strato? /I held the sword, and he did run on it (Shakespeare, V, v, 64-65,912). Similar to Antigone, Brutuss tragedy that occurs due to his breaking of the law to do what is right is sealed when he commits suicide as he sees that Antony and Octaviuss forces defeat his and Cassiuss. Since Antigone faces a tragedy after she becomes an outlaw to follow a moral law by burying her brother Polynecius and Brutus dies after he helps murder Caesar, thinking that he is doing a service to his country, the two characters in their respective can be seen as tragic characters. Even though Antigone and Brutus share their similarity as tragic characters, they go through different situations.

A difference that exists between Antigone and Brutus is that Antigone follows her heart to save what is left of a loved one whereas Brutus follows his heart and destroys his best friend, Caesar. Antigone states this purpose when she declares to Creon that, It is my nature to join in love, not hate/ Go join them, then; if you must/ Have your love/ Find it in hell (Sophocles, I, ii, 134-137, 785). Antigones justification of burying Polynecius not only justifies her deed, but the fact that she is a person who tries to save what is left. Brutus, however, is a completely different case. Brutus unknowingly proves this point when Brutus, in his eulogy at the funeral of his dearest friend Caesar, says, If/There be any in this assembly, and dear friend of/Caesars, to him I say that Brutus love to Caesar was/No less than his. If then that Friend demand why/Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: Not/That I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more (Shakespeare, III, ii, 17-22, 870). As Brutus explains himself, he also implies that he is a man who can sacrifice what he wants or himself (his friendship with Caesar) for the good of others. Although Antigone breaks the law of man to save what is left of a loved one, Brutus kills his best friend for the good of his country, Rome. In the way that Antigone and Brutus contrast in their situations, they also differ in how they respond to peer pressure.

The difference that Antigone and Brutus have in the way the deal with peer pressure is Antigone refuses to have Ismenes peer pressure affect her decision whereas Brutus feels necessary to follow what his fellow colleagues/senators want him to do in the conspiracy against Caesar for the good of Rome. In Antigones conversation with Ismene, Antigone does not give into peer pressure even though Ismene tries to convince her sister by saying, The law is strong, we must give in to the lawIf that is what you think/I should not want you But I will bury him (Sophocles, Prologue, 49-57, 774). Even though Antigones own sister pleads with her to follow the law, Antigones boldness reveals the kind of character she is, a person willing to stand up for what she believes in. Unlike Brutus, she does not let peer pressure affect her decision-making and the fact that she even rejects her own sisters advice shows the degree of her radical belief. Brutuss case is quite different and is described when Mark Antony, in his eulogy of Brutuss death, says, All the conspirators save only he/Did that they did in envy of great Caesar/He, only in a general honest thought and common good to all, made one of them (Shakespeare, V, v, 69-72, 912). Unlike Antigone, Brutus actually finds it necessary to follow what his colleagues think about what is good for Rome, according to Antonys description. Although Brutuss reason for conspiring against Caesar might have been different from the rest of the conspirators, Brutus still does go along with what they think is right.

All in all, although the outcome of Antigone and Brutus both ends in disaster for them, some differences they share are the situation that is dependent on their decisions and how both reacted in contrasting ways to peer pressure. From seeing how Antigone and Brutus both suffer the consequences of following their heart, one can see that it costs something on the decision makers part to stand up for something that he or she believes in.

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