Antigone - Paper 27

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It takes a lot of courage to stand up and defend an action or idea that is forbidden by society. This is what Antigone does in Sophocles' story Antigone. She clearly disobeys King Creon's order that no person should bury Antigone's brother, Polynices, which is punishable by penalty of death. In this case, though, is Antigone's decision the correct one? Her actions affect many of her other countrymen negatively; they cause problems within the royal family, disagreement among the people and directly relate to the death of three people including her own.

By burying her brother Antigone knowingly and willingly went against royal orders and in doing so chooses her own death. She knows as well as anyone in the town that death would come to all that disobeyed Creon's order. Antigone says to this "no one will ever convict me for a traitor (page 61)," and decides to bury the body, this is quite ironic because by burying her brother a traitor is exactly what she is convicted of being. Antigone's activities were traitorous against her homeland, Thebes in that she acted for herself instead of for the good of the country. Creon had declared that "Our country is our safety. Only while she voyages true on course can we establish friendships truer than blood itself. Such are my standards. They make our city great (page 68)." He says this meaning that if everyone acted as a whole they would always prosper. If someone were to go against go against the laws and ideals put forth by Creon it would only cause dissension. When Antigone did go against the law this exactly what happened. Chaos would not have ensued if she trusted her king to be right in his decision, just as all the townspeople and her sister Ismene did.

Creon also had stated that one should not place a friend, in this case a brother, in front of one's country. One could say that Antigone is selfish in her pursuits of doing so, for although Polynices was Antigone's brother, he was planning to loot and destroy Thebes if he was victorious in overtaking it. Further evidencing this idea, Polynices also killed Antigone's other brother Eteocles who was faithful to Thebes until his death defending it. Being that this is the case then why would Creon agree to a burial of a traitor who with a foreign army invaded his homeland killing his own brother and would have sold his fellow countrymen into slavery. Antigone response to this is that she wants to bury her brother because that is the unwritten law of the gods, but Creon's decision is in light of his belief in those same gods, for the gods never respect a traitor. It must seem inconceivable to Creon that the gods would ever want a traitor like Polynices buried, let alone with the same ceremony as his brother Eteocles. Creon believes in the gods of the country and he is sure that he is acting in the best interest of Thebes. For if he had decided to bury Polynices it would show him and his country as being week. It would send a message that Thebes is a country that honors its traitors. This could put the country in jeopardy of another attack.

One can argue that it is hypocritical for Antigone to walk knowingly into her death when in the previous story Oedipus at Colonus she begged Polynices not to go to war when he knew that he would die fighting Eteocles. Now her sister Ismene is doing the same thing by begging her not to act foolishly. Antigone could have easily prayed for Polynices at her lonesome, and many catastrophes would have been averted. Antigone, however reflecting the stubbornness of her father Oedipus fails to see the flaws in her thinking. She also must have known, or was unable to see through her clouded mind, that whatever she was to accomplish by burying her brother was sure to be erased. More specifically as soon as the body was buried, Creon would decree that it should be uncovered. Would it be worth it for her to risk her life just so that her brother could be buried for a...
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