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Antigone's Courage Essay


Antigones Courage

In the play Antigone by Sophocles, Antigones character strongly demonstrates that family loyalty is a higher law than the laws of the city Thebes. She makes a decision to follow her religious beliefs rather than following the rules decreed by her uncle, King Creon. Antigone and Creon bump heads when Creon introduces to the kingdom, a law stating that if anyone attempts to bury Polyneices, he/ she will be sentenced to death. What matters is whether a person is given a proper burial or not, however, it is believed that there is only one afterlife for both good and bad. 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.

Creons 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). The citizens of Thebes knew that he did not have the power to bring forth this edict, but he still went forth with it and everyone had to abide by them. The people disagreed with him because they knew he was going against the gods, however, they knew they had to abide or pay the consequences.

After it is revealed that Polyneices has been buried, Creon puts a death sentence on the head of whoever has disobeyed the laws of Thebes. In his eyes, he believes that only his laws are to be obeyed and no one has the right to dishonor them. Creon disregards when it is suggested that the gods may have had a hand in Polyneices burial by saying, Go out of your heads entirely? The Gods! Intolerable! (1331). Although Creon is faced with beliefs contradictory to his own, he holds the laws of the city above everything else. He holds to his belief no matter what anyone else says; and in the end, when it is too late, he realizes that listening to others would have saved his life.

Antigone knew of the laws and of the consequences, but her motivation was with merely about the honor she wanted for herself and her family. Polyneices was her brother, a blood relative, and she knew what she had to do. Antigone was caught dusting sand over Polyneices body and was brought to Creon. When Creon asks Antigone, do you confess this thing? (1334) she honestly replies, I do. I deny nothing (1334). She knew there was a chance of getting caught, but she also knew her brother deserved to be honored. Antigone states, This death of mine is of no importance; but if I had left my brother lying in death unburied, I should have suffered. Now I do not (1334). Antigone honors the laws of the gods and in a sense, also honors those of the dead, because through her actions, it sends her to death. When Ismene, her sister, is also brought in for violating Creon's laws, she wants to share in the blame; however, Antigone refuses to allow her to share in this with her, saying, "I have no love for a friend who loves in words alone." Ismene also loved her brother, Polyneices, but fearing Creon she holds true to his laws despite what dishonor it may cause her family. Similar to Ismene, many of us are held back from what we were truly sent here to do because we lack the courage that Antigone has. She understands that she must die because she disobeyed the orders of Creon, but she also knows that she did what she had to do to die without suffering.

Furthermore, it is seen as honorably right to support the laws of the state, but it is only right to fulfill your family duties first. The chorus says, God and the government ordain just laws; the citizen who rules his life by them is worthy of acclaim. But he that presumes to set the law at naught is like a stateless person, outlawed, beyond the pale. This recapitulates that it is right to follow rules, but they should also be susceptible to change. Creon rules with an attitude that he will not bend the law for anyone whether they are family or not.

Furthermore, Creon possessed qualities of an unsuccessful king due to his excessive pride. He is hypocritical, stern, inflexible, and loves power he was given. These qualities depict a ruler, not exactly what the city-state was looking for. Creon did not show respect for the people, and therefore the people did not respect him or his edict. He showed no concern whatsoever for the people, he only wanted to prove that he had power and could use that against anyone who tried to cross or disobey him.

In conclusion, Creon believed that everything he did was the right thing to do. Even though Antigone broke the law, Creon handled this problem without even thinking what he might have done. He was a very strong king and always stuck to what he said, though he never thought about what it might do to others, or how it affected them or their feelings. In the end, Creon finally realizes that some of the things he has done were wrong and he should be punished for what he did; he feels he should die for his wrong doing. In addition, both of these characters actions fit the definition of a tragic hero, however, Antigone was the sole person who kept her beliefs true throughout the play. Above all, both Creon and Antigone are very strong and willful individuals and by sticking to their beliefs they prove that they are both heroes.

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