Man Vs God Essay Research Paper Conflict

Man Vs God Essay, Research Paper

Conflict is a necessary element in any literary work. Conflict is brought

about when two opposing forces come to grips with each other. In Sophicle?s

Antigone, both external and internal conflicts arise when the will of an

individual opposes the will of the majority. Throughout the Greek tragedy,

either side of the conflict is clearly represented by a single character with a

strong belief. Each character?s convictions are tested and challenged

throughout Antigone, ultimately resulting in one character forsaking his or her

belief, revealing both his own true nature and the nature of his or her belief.

The central conflict presented in Antigone, the laws of man versus those of

the gods, is commonly found in many Greek tragedies. A specific character

represents each side of the conflict; while Antigone is a devout follower of the

laws of the gods, Creon and his cohorts represent the arrogant laws of man. The

opposing forces come to grips when Antigone, in accordance to the gods? law

stating that ?Death longs for the same rites for all,? attempts to bury her

brother, Polynices (Sophicles 35). This action is a violation of Creon?s ?proclamation

. . . forbid[ing] the city to dignify him with a burial, mourn at all? (Sophicles

24). This breech of godly law is Creon?s way of punishing Polynices for being

a traitor in a recent war. Even though Creon is king, Antigone believes so

strongly in the authority of the gods that she refuses ?to break [their laws],

/ not out of fear of [Creon?s] wounded pride? (Sophicles 33). Creon?s

arrogance is clearly manifested in his attitude towards the gods? authority.

He refers to his own decree as an order from ?the high throne of judgment? (Sophicles

47). Antigone, however, is humble, and acknowledges that Creon?s orders do not

correspond with, nor do they override ?that Justice, dwelling with the gods /

beneath the earth? (Sophicles 33).

One side must eventually yield when two opposing forces clash with one

another. In Sophicle?s Antigone, the gods prevail over man, as is common in

Greek tragedies in which man versus the gods is the central theme. Antigone

fights to the bitter end, even after Creon sentences her to death, for ?[her]

reverence for the gods? (Sophicles 50). She, in fact, seems to fully accept

her martyrdom, as she believes that it ?is the pleasure of the gods? she is

so dedicated to (Sophicles 49). For Antigone, ?to meet . . . doom . . . is

precious little pain,? when compared to denying her brother a burial and

betraying the gods, which ?would have been agony? (Sophicles 33). Creon,

however, does not realize his misdoing until after he has carried out Antigone?s

sentence. He is reluctant to admit that he ?know[s] [he] can?t defile the

gods — / no mortal has the power? (54). It is only after ?disasters sent by

the gods,? such as the death of his wife and son, that he fully realizes the

magnitude of his hubris towards the gods and it?s consequences. It is after

these tragedies that Creon relinquishes his beliefs and acknowledges that ?the

guilt is all [his]? (Sophicles 63). The chorus summarizes Creon?s ultimate

realization in agreeing that ?the mighty words of the proud are paid in full

with mighty blows of fate, and at long last, those blows will teach us wisdom?

(Sophicles 65). It is indeed true that Creon gained wisdom from his mistakes,

only all too late.

Upon Creon?s change of heart, the nature of his beliefs is revealed. This

change reveals that his beliefs were not truly evil, only unwise. He

acknowledges this when his son is found dead, saying ?[his] own stupidity?

was the cause of his death (Sophicles 62). The misfortune that befall Creon as a

result of his arrogance, reveals a profound truth; ?that of all the ills

afflicting men the worst is lack of judgment? (Sophicles 61). Creon?s

further confessions concerning his poor judgment, declaring his stubborn actions

to have been ?so senseless, so insane,? support the idea that Creon?s

beliefs were not evil, only unwise (Sophicles 62). Simply put, the nature of his

beliefs was not baneful or corrupt, only human.

This breed of conflict, the will of human nature versus that which is

acknowledged as moral and upright, is certainly still relevant to readers in the

twentieth century, as it will be to readers of further generations, forever.

This conflict can be seen in almost any aspect of modern life. It is seen today

in the current presidential election. One can see, with a little foresight, that

each candidate?s equally strong will to become president could effect the

masses in an adverse way. The possibility of involvement of legal trials

concerning the election could undermine the effectiveness of the electoral

process and effect United States citizen?s freedom to choose. This modern

example of how the will of an individual can create conflict and adversely

effect the masses supports the idea that conflicts similar to those presented in

Antigone are still present today.


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