Antigone Essay, Research Paper
After filling up your gas-guzzling SUV, you walk into the convenience store to pay for the gas and buy a soda. Reaching for the Diet Coke, your eye catches on something as a man walks past you. It is a shine, or a shimmer. Just the light bouncing off the keys, you think. You grab the soda and shut the door that is now fogged up due to the warm air. As you turn around, chaos breaks through the quiet, and everybody is leaping for the ground. Quite puzzled, you just stand there, looking at everybody, wondering what the hell is going on. And then you see it. The man that walked by you has a gun in his hands and is waving it around like a baton. Fortunately, he hasn?t seen you standing due to the high shelves. He aims the gun right at the cashier. It is at this moment when you must decide whether you are brave or a coward. You have to decide whether you can do something about this situation or if you are just going to lay on the floor with everyone else.
Being brave is tough. It takes a lot of courage and strength to do something that people would notice, to be an individual. Sophocles develops a character in his play ?Antigone? that is the definition of brave and courageous. Her name is Antigone. She is an individual because she stands up for what she believes is right, even though it may go against the laws created by man. Antigone?s uncle, Creon, has declared that Polynices, Antigone?s dead brother, may not be buried or mourned due to the fact that he fought against his home civilization. And anyone that defies this law will be punished by death. Antigone, however, firmly believes that her brother deserves the proper burial and ceremony that any soldier would receive. ? He?s my brother. Yours too, in case you have forgotten. Nobody is going to be able to say I betrayed my own brother? (36). Despite the consequence of death, Antigone follows through with her beliefs and gives her brother the proper ceremony for a dead soldier. By carrying through with her beliefs, Antigone not only shows her strength and courage, but also her commitment to her family. Family is very important to Antigone, especially since the death of her father and mother. And now that her two brothers are dead, all that is left is her sister. ?Sister, remember what happened to our father! ?Think about the fact that we?re all that?s left of our family? (41, 46-47). The fact that Antigone is now alone with her sister only makes her desire to honor her family even stronger. She has a very passionate spirit that cannot and will not be crushed by man?s law or the consequences. Antigone posses an ability that enables her to follow her heart and that makes her a very strong and able character.
You decide to be brave and courageous and to stop the gunman before he can hurt anyone. You realize how dangerous guns can be and the corollary of being shot. The thought that you could be hurt or even die from your actions crosses through you mind. But you feel as if you need to do this. Your pride tells you that you can do it, that you should do it. So you do, you try to stop the gunman. Pride can be a very powerful feeling that drives people to do things that they don?t really want to do. Antigone?s pride is her characteristic downfall. At the beginning of the play, she talks with her sister, Ismene, about giving their dead brother a suitable burial. Antigone asks for Ismene?s help and explains to Ismene the consequences of breaking the law for burying their brother. At this point, however, Antigone doesn?t fully realize the reality of the situation. Her pride is overtaking her and telling her to die with honor. Honor is the key word, as that is what Antigone thinks will come of going through with this act. ?I?m not afraid. If I must die, at least I won?t die the worst of deaths ? a death without honor? (82-85). Towards the end of the play, however, she feels self-pity and helplessness when the death sentence is actually given. ?I am summoned to the dark. There will be no wedding song for me, no flowers strewn upon my marriage bed. It?s Death I wed? (611). At this point, her pride is damaged and she weeps to the people of the state, to make sure that they know what she did. She cries to them, asking them to have pity for her. The overall feeling at this point is irony. We see Antigone at the beginning of the play as a selfless and giving person. She is willing to give her life just so her brother could have a dignified and apposite burial. Now that her penalty has become a reality, however, she turns selfish, taking any and all of the praise that is given to her for her actions. ?There?s no need to die. One death is plenty, and if there?s any honor attached to it, that honor?s mine? (401-403). She also becomes conceded, trying to let everyone know what she did and gain his or her sympathy. Antigone defies the law because of her pride. But it is also her pride that blinds her from the true meaning of the consequences due to her actions. Because of this blindness, she turns selfish and pities herself when reality hits and her death sentence is carried out. Though Antigone may have a strong will, that will is driven by pride and pride leads to her demise.
You start walking over to the gunman, still hidden by the tall shelves. A feeling rises up in you. It is a feeling of determination, of power and strength. Once you start going, you feel like you could tackle anything. It is a strong feeling, one that makes you feel like a leader. This feeling of leadership is a very prominent feature in Sophocles? character Creon. After his brother?s death, Creon assumes control over the land. For the most part, divine law rules the land. There is one law, however, that Creon proclaims that goes against the divine law set forth by the gods. That law prohibits the burial of Antigone?s brother because he acted against his native country. It is the gods? law that all soldiers have an appropriate and honorable burial. Although Creon?s law contradicts the gods?, he sticks to his beliefs and does not alter them. Even when his niece, Antigone, defies his law, he carries through with the punishment, which is death.
??she is a traitor and must die, or else I?d be a traitor too, and I will not break my promise to the state. I suppose she?ll claim that as my niece she should not be put to death, but if I exempt my family from the law, why should anyone else be subject to it? It?s important to people to know that their leader?s house is in order, because if it?s not, how can he be expected to keep their house in order?? (479-448).
Creon obviously has a strong sense of duty to his country. He is committed to being fair among his people, which is a good trait for a leader to have. He knows and respects the fact that some people will not agree with his decisions or his rule, but he remains strong and continues to enforce his laws. Because Creon has a strong will, however, does not mean that he does not show humiliation. Towards the end of the play, after learning that he will push his son and niece to their deaths, Creon recoils himself and steps back from his leadership role. At the time when he needs to become passionate and morally responsible, he is able to do that. ?It?s hard to swallow my pride, but I will. Only an idiot tries to fight with fate?.I buried her, I will set her free myself? (838-839, 843-844). Creon?s character displays the typical leadership qualities that any principal needs to have to be considered a good leader.
You pause behind a shelf that contains the candy bars. You are trying to figure out a way that you can surprise the man without letting him know you are there. Looking around, you see a young man lying next to you. He looks up at you and pleads with his eyes for you not to do anything. The look makes you have second thoughts. What are you doing? You?re playing with a gift, with life, that can be taken away as quickly as it was given. But you?ve already come this far. Turning back now would look bad and damage your pride. So, you continue on, full of self-assurance and pride. You jump out into the clearing and plan to tackle the guy. But before you can jump the guy, he swivels around and fires. You?re blown backwards, hit by something so powerful that it knocks you down. Suddenly, everything looks dim and you realize that you can?t breathe. Feeling your chest, you lift your hand to see dripping blood. Regret fills your thoughts before you fall into unconsciousness. Like Antigone, pride gets the better of you. And like you, Creon has the same mind-set. Creon is extremely proud, proud about being king, proud about making his own laws, and proud that he doesn?t budge on his ruling. Having pride can be a positive possession, if it is not abused. Creon, however, is too proud, and eventually it leads to his downfall, as it led to yours. This new law that Creon has passed, the forbidden burial of Antigone?s brother, goes against the divine law set by the gods. When Antigone breaks Creon?s law and Creon is made aware of it, he is stubborn. He is not willing to listen to Antigone?s story about why she did what she did. He just ignores her opinion, and continues through with his ideas of punishment. He is stubborn and too proud to ?lower? himself to her level. He thinks that as king, he cannot change his mind and must stick to what he initially believes in. His pride tells him to do something that he may not want to do. But he can?t go back on his word, because he would look foolish and dumb. Or at least, so he thinks. It is his pride, however, that destroys him in the end.
?You so-called prophets are like archers, letting your arrows fly at me! But what you truly are, is confidence men, trying to hustle me! Leave me in peace. Turn profit somewhere else, old man, speculate on the foreign exchange, wherever, I don?t care; but even if God?s eagles bore the body of Oedipus? son (Antigone?s brother) to the heavens, morsel by rotting morsel, I would not let you fool me into allowing his burial? (753-762).
No matter who tries to contradict Creon, whether it is the townspeople or Tiresias, a soothsayer, he just won?t listen because he is too stubborn and proud to change his laws. In the end, however, it is Creon?s pride that causes the death of his son and of his niece, Antigone. Being proud about something is good, but having too much pride to listen to family, friends, and common sense is destructive.
Every person has another side. It is a side that most people do not see, but that some people are unfortunate enough to encounter. Sophocles develops two characters in his play ?Antigone? that have another side, a side that is not so obvious from the beginning lines. Antigone, for example, is at first very strong-willed woman. Towards the end, however, when she realizes that she will definitely die, she turns soft and cries about the fact; even though she already knew about the consequences when she buried her brother. Despite this fact, Antigone is looked upon as a heroine. She is an unusual female throughout this play because she stands up against males and sticks to what she believes in. She is not easily scared by Creon?s threats or the consequences. Anyone who is willing to die for their beliefs has strength and courage. And I admire that, because I know that I, myself, would not go through with something given that the penalty would be death. I do not have that kind of conviction, but Antigone does, and that is why she is considered a heroine.