Antigone 10 Essay, Research Paper
“The tyrant dies and his rule ends, the martyr dies and his rule begins.” (Kierkegaard) In terms of Antigone, this quotation makes a lot of sense. If a tyrant’s, or a cruel dictator-like person’s, role is to diminish, he/she will not necessarily die, but his/her popularity will most definitely decline. As the contrary is true for a martyr, or a person who suffers so as to keep his/her faith and/or principles. He/She will pretty much never die. Through the old, Greek play Antigone, written by Sophocles, this quotation appears evidently true in the roles of King Creon, Antigone, and Ismene.
In the quotation above, “The tyrant dies and his rule ends, the martyr dies and his rule begins,” Creon portrays the part of the tyrant very well. His regards for the laws of the city cause him to abandon all other beliefs. He believes that everyone should obey the laws set forth by him, even if other beliefs, moral or religious, state otherwise. He enforces these laws very strictly. At the beginning of the play, Creon orders the people not to bury Polyneices because of his dishonor towards Thebes. Furthermore, if Creon
catches anyone burying him, he/she will be killed for disobeying his order. This alone makes the quotation true. If people see the cruel truth behind this action, they will make sure to see the end of his rule. When Creon realizes that the burial of Polyneices does occur, he sends his Sentry to figure out the culprit. He explains to his Sentry that if he can not catch this person, he will then have to be killed. This also makes his appearance as a tyrant. It only adds to the fact of his rule ending once his popularity declines. After
the Sentry discovers Antigone as the culprit, he brings her in to the King. Creon sentences her to leave and be faced with death. “I will carry her far away/ Out there in the wilderness, and lock her/ Living in a vault of stone….And there let her pray to the gods of hell:/ They are her only gods:/ Perhaps they will show her an escape from death,/ Or she may learn, though late,/ That piety shown the dead is pity in vain.” (Creon, 688-89) Not many people believe that what Antigone did is wrong. In fact, many would do the same if placed in her shoes. So again, this becomes another reason for the people of Thebes not to agree with King Creon. Once Creon realizes what he did by sending Antigone away for death, he wants to bring her back. He goes to obtain her and when he gets there, he discovers Antigone’s dead body. This only makes the relationship worse between Creon and his people because not only does he send Antigone away, but now he killed her too. Creon’s harsh unishment on those who disobey the law makes many fear him and dare not to go against him.
Antigone, on the other hand, tends to be more similar with the martyr in the quotation, “The tyrant dies and his rule ends, the martyr dies and his rule begins.” She holds the beliefs of the gods in high respect. She believes that the laws of the gods should be obeyed above all others, especially when in respect to family. Antigone does not want to let her brother be left without a proper burial. She believes to show respect and love towards her brother, she must bury him. Antigone has very strong emotions about burying her brother against Creon’s orders. She actually does go and perform the act of burying her brother as she wishes. This one action clearly portrays the martyr in
her. She will receive pain any day over backing down from her beliefs. Even though her own sister tries not to let Antigone commit the “crime” of burying her brother, she still goes ahead with this dead. Just so that her brother obtains the respect he deserves from her, she goes against everything she needs to. Even when confronted by the king and sentenced to death, she refuses to back down from her opinion. Her reasoning goes as this, “And if I must die/ Now, before it is my time to die,/ Surely this is no hardship: can anyone/ Living as I live, with evil all about me,/ Think Death less than a friend? 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.” (Antigone, 679) Standing up to Creon only makes Antigone appear that much stronger to the people. They understand where her words come from, and therefore she shall never die. When King Creon sentences Antigone away for death, she goes along with it. She knows that she committed a “crime” under the laws of Creon, so she therefore will pay the consequences for it. She does not mind paying the price because she knows that what she did, no matter what anyone else thought, was right and needed to be done. Antigone even dies for what she believes in.
She definitely fits the quotation perfectly. Antigone will never let anyone or anything come in the way of her beliefs.
In the quotation, “The tyrant dies and his rule ends, the martyr dies and his rule begins,” Ismene appears as more of the tyrant type of person than the martyr. Most of the time she will not suffer so as though to keep her beliefs strong. She believes that there a person can not go against the laws of the authority. To do so, only puts that person in shame. For example, she tries to talk her sister out of burying her brother only because of what could happen to her if Creon discovers that Antigone went against him. “The law is
strong, we must give in to the law/ In this thing, and in worse. I beg the Dead/ To forgive me, but I am helpless: I must yield/ To those in authority. And I think it is dangerous business/ To be always meddling.” (Ismene, 673) This makes the people realize how weak Ismene really can be. She will not even respect her family by burying her own brother. Then, once Antigone receives all the blame for the dead that she did, Ismene wants to help. She then tries to make Creon share the consequences between the two of them. That there only portrays the fact that Ismene wants the people to think she did the right thing, when really she did nothing at all. This again turns the people away from Ismene and makes them not care what happens to her. Creon does send Ismene away for just thinking of the burial of her brother. He knows that she did not physically commit the crime, but she may have wanted to. She receives this punishment with her head held high because she know believes that she did the right thing. The people still know and believe that she never helped and even went as far as denying her sister of the help when she asked. Ismene really never made an okay image with the people of Thebes. They hated her from the moment they realized that she would not bury her brother. Ismene only wants to obey the laws of the authority, and nothing else.
King Creon and Ismene believe different things to be right and wrong, as compared to Antigone. In this quotation, “The tyrant dies and his rule ends, the martyr dies and his rule begins,” (Kierkegaard), Creon and Ismene appear to be similar to the tyrant, rather than the martyr, as Antigone appears. The tyrant does not leave a lasting impression that the people of the city would agree with. This person’s popularity will most likely decline, once people realize what he/she really wants. As for the martyr, this person will suffer and receive pain just so that his/her faith, beliefs, and/or principles are kept. And because of this quality in their personality, his/her image will never die. To sum it up, Creon, Antigone, and Ismene represent both aspects of the quotation, “The tyrant dies and his rule ends, the martyr dies and his rule begins,” throughout the play Antigone, written by Sophocles.