Civil Disobedience: Sometimes It’s Necessary Essay, Research Paper
Civil Disobedience: Sometimes It s Necessary And yet, as men s hearts know, I have done nothing wrong (Sophocles 4.66). Antigone, the main character from the ancient Greek play by Sophocles, faces a situation in which she must choose between what she believes morally right and a law or rule that she feels is wrong. Historically, many people have chosen between their moral beliefs and the law. Sometimes they gather their courage and defy it. This defiance, known as civil disobedience, exists throughout history and literature. Civil disobedience does not harm anyone; it simply helps a person demonstrate what he or she believes in. Sometimes civil disobedience incurs punishment, perhaps even death for the practitioner. Antigone and Joan of Arc, a French heroine from the late Middle Ages both practiced civil disobedience; sacrificing their lives for moral beliefs. First, Antigone practices civil disobedience in a very heroic way, and, though a fictional character could stand as a heroine. Sophocles portrays Antigone as a classic heroine; very faithful to those she loves. When her two brothers kill each other in a war, she refuses to take sides. I know that two sisters lost two brothers, a double death in a single hour (Prologue 7-8) she claims. Suddenly, King Creon decides to make a new law. This new law states that the brother who fought against him must lie in the fields (Prolouge.21). This turns Antigone completely against Creon. Outraged, she decides to bury her brother secretly. Clearly she needs help with this secretive task. She tells Ismene, her sister, who replies with Bury him! (Prolouge.32). Ismene does not want to break Creon s law for fear of what it might incur. Antigone decides to do the task herself. Unfortunately, Creon finds out and has his men watch the body. They see Antigone and bring her to the palace, and Creon orders her execution. Antigone does not unveil her fear, and will endure death for what she believes in. This act of heroism evinces that Antigone has proven herself a heroine. She does not reveal the fear that she clearly feels, and instead exemplifies great bravery. When Creon announces Antigone s sentence, she acts very aloof, as to illustrate that she has no fear of him. She says to him: I deny nothing (2.53). He then orders her to a cave out in the wilderness. Even as they shut her in the cave, she conceals her fear. This proves that she has defied Creon. She does not care what he thinks of her. She simply does what she feels right by burying her brother. This play simply demonstrates that true heroes will endure anything to stand up for their beliefs.
Joan of Arc also practices civil disobedience, but in a much different way. Joan began hearing the voices of saints at age twelve. These voices always told her the right thing to do, and she always listened. One day, the voices told her that France needed her help in order to win the war against the England. They told her to cut her hair, dress in a man s uniform and pick up the arms (Bois). Of course, Joan did what the voices told her to. She led the French in a rebellion against England, and had a marvelous victory. Joan was feared by many other countries for her fearlessness, courage, and bravery. When Charles VII was crowned king of France, he gave Joan a place of honor next to the king (Bois). This illustrates that sometimes civil disobediants are even rewarded for their crimes. Joan deserved to be recognized for her great victories, and she was. Unfortunately, in 1430, the Burgundians captured Joan while defending a place near Paris. They tried her for heresy and witchcraft, mostly because she wore men s clothing. They told her that for her to wear it was a crime against God (Bois). The voices had not told Joan to stop wearing it, so she continued. Her capturers saw this as defiance, and that sealed her fate. They burned Joan of Arc at the stake on May 30, 1431 at nineteen years old. Charles VII did not even make an attempt to rescue her. When the English told Joan she must be burned at the stake, she concealed her fear, and continued to demonstrate great bravery. Joan of Arc proved herself one of the greatest heroines of our times. She died for her country, a great act of patriotism that not many people are willing to do. Antigone and Joan of Arc came from completely different eras, but they both shared the same strong moral beliefs. They both defied authority figures, and died for their moral beliefs. Yet, Joan of Arc led an army, while Antigone stood alone. This essay has demonstrated that dying for one s belief prevails as the greatest sacrifice that one can give; one that not many people would make.