Who doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong? In today’s society right and wrong comes from what we as people see as the normal way of doing things. This essential knowledge comes from ones upbringing, parental teachings, and religious or legal instructions in ones society. The knowledge can turn out to have quite a different origin. In Antigone by Sophocles, there is a different code of moral origin between two different relatives. One being the king who sets laws, the other being a woman who breaks such set laws for her own moral beliefs. So this concludes to ask, who is right? Are we as people of being, able to signify what is right and wrong? Also, how does one judge what is right or wrong if we ourselves are ignorant to the supreme truth?
In this story we have two Characters believing that they are equally right. Kreon as a king sets guidelines and rules for the people of Thebes to obey. As a king and person in charge of order he is able and has the right to make laws. He has the right to make the law he set out for Antigone’s brother, Polyneices, body to be left untouched (improper burial) and left to rot because of his rebellion against the city. Kreons morals are all wrong in making this law. As a newly crowned king, as of any in power wants to make known that they are not a push over. So it seems in being a new king, Kreon had to set a law and carry it out in order for people to respect and fear him. Kreon is not wrong for making the improper burial a law, but his moral value here does not fit the tradition or what is made out what the god’s want. Kreon believes he is right because he has total power. He never let anyone change his mind throughout the play. Haimon, Kreons son and Antigone’s Fiancé, tells his father that he respects, but feels that he is wrong. (685-720) Haimon begs his father to take his advice and not kill her. Kreon gets furious and makes things worse. Kreon was too proud to take advice from someone younger. He shows this by saying “Are men of my age to be taught to have good sense by someone who has only grown to this man’s age.” (725)
Although laws are made to keep order in society, some laws carry unjust prohibits. In the play Antigone defies the law set out by her relative and king, Kreon. She is caught purposely giving her brother a proper burial, which was set not to do. Kreon here’s of what has happened and orders her to a alive burial. Because of her moral values she was incapable of leaving her brother to rot. Did she have good intentions in her actions? Was she wrong for giving much respect to her brother, who was stripped of his rights of burial? Antigone did the right in this situation by breaking Kreons laws on burying Polynieces because our morals and the laws by the god’s in this play are higher than the laws of any outrageous man. Yes, she has good reason and good intensions for her actions; she did not obey the rules of her society, but in fact obeyed the rules of her tradition of the god’s; which was that a dead body be given a proper burial. (Footnote 81) She was not mentally able to see one brother chosen over the other because of what Kreon declared was right. Why persecute her for her belief? Antigone is a martyr; in her point of view she believes that the gods’ laws are far greater than mortal laws. In death you do not have to answer to any man, you will answer to your god.
In looking for a modern day event to tie into this play, I began to think about what this play has most to do with, which is whether God’s Law or Mans Law is right. In this play God’s law prevails. You have one side which is Antigone’s belief which is seen as God’s Law and Kreons Belief which is seen as Man’s Law. The story ends with God’s law winning with Kreons wife and son both dead because of his actions. Where things get tricky is with the conflicts of today’s society. Modern day issues of god’s law vs. Mans law is the controversy in this country over abortion. Where Christians believe it is quite ok to up hold God’s law by killing the doctors who perform the abortive acts. These “God laws” are very conflicting, for instance in the Bible you have “tho shall not kill” as a commandment. Then the bible contradicts itself by saying in other books of the bible that u should “take an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth.” After thinking everything through to myself and taking it in. If we want to achieve what is right, God or Man, most would say God. If we take a more literal approach and read, we cannot interpret the bible, torah, scrolls or whatever you might believe in with a solid thought. Take the Bible for instance; it is made from and by man over thousands of years. It incorporates 66 books all written by man through word of mouth. So what is right and what is wrong, is and will always be an issue. We may never know as long as we live the answer to this question it is a matter of belief and what one may believe will vary.
Antigone By: Sophocles