Antigone: Individual vs. State

Topics: Law, Sophocles, Oedipus Pages: 3 (1182 words) Published: March 9, 2009
Individual Vs. State

The clash between individual conscience and governmental law is a time-honored struggle of mankind, involving the conflict between adhering to civil law and giving allegiance to a higher law, or power. Everyone has their own beliefs as to what is moral and immoral. Many people today will oppose the government and sacrifice themselves because of their personal belief that certain laws are unjust. Gandhi, the leading advocate for independence in India, demonstrated this when he urged protestation of governmental laws and self-sacrifice for one’s personal beliefs. Such forms the basis for the struggle in Antigone, the Greek tragedy written by the great playwright, Sophocles. At the epicenter of this tragedy is the conflict between man's moral sense of what is right, and the social law which society has sanctioned. The discord between the two is demonstrated through the duty to family adhered to by Antigone, and the responsibility, or necessity, felt by Creon to impart the rule of governing law. Both characters demonstrate logical reasoning behind their actions and strong arguments can be marshaled for each side. The Greek tragedy, Antigone, explores this dramatic clash between the state and individual conscience. While not providing a universal outcome, Antigone examines the conflict when personal and political beliefs converge in opposition with one another, clearly demonstrating there is no clear-cut answer in deciding whether one takes precedence over the other. Antigone and Creon express conflicting opinions that allude to the theme of individual conscience versus the laws of government. In the opening scene, the two daughters of Oedipus, Antigone and Ismene, discuss whether they should bury their brother, Polynices. Creon, the King of Thebes, orders that Polynices not be given a proper burial because “he that spilled the blood of his blood and sold his own people into slavery” (1308). Creon declares that anyone who tries to bury...
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