Julius Caesar Critical Lens

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Mahatma Gandhi once said “There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.” This quote illustrates the idea that man must live longer with his conscience than with a simple decision made in a courtroom. The distinction between right and wrong must be derived from one’s morals, not the rulings of the state. This concept of conscience conquering law can be applied to works of literature such as the Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Antigone and Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men. Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone conveys the importance of morality over the rulings of the state through its setting of Ancient Thebes and Antigone’s moral conflict with King Creon’s law. Creon, orders the body of Polynices not to be buried since Creon considered him a traitor. However, Antigone ignores Creon’s edict and properly buries her brother, giving him the eternal peace she believes he deserves. Antigone’s view that Creon’s law is unjust and that the laws of the gods override those of Creon is heavily shaped by her environment, as Thebes is centered upon religion. She fights for her brother’s proper burial since she devoutly believes that a person cannot go to the afterlife until given a proper burial, as Thebians do. Though Antigone suffered by acting according to her conscience since Creon orders her death for disobeying his law, Antigone dies upholding the religious values of her era which in her eyes supersedes the views of the kingdom. The central conflict of state law versus conscience is also prominent throughout the tragedy as Antigone sacrifices her life out of devotion to principles higher than human law. She knows that the wishes of the gods and her duty to her brother outweigh any human laws. Though disobeying state laws costs Antigone her life, disobeying the laws of the gods would add a tremendous amount of guilt onto her conscience. In addition, Antigone decision to choose to die than live with guilt of not burying...
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