Betrayal of Family Loyalty
In the play Antigone, written by Greek playwright Sophocles, loyalty to family seems to be a recurring theme. We first see it when Antigone defies King Creon's order to keep her brother, Polynices, unburied as a punishment for his betrayal of their country Thebes. We also see how Antigone's sister, Ismene, accepts partial blame for the burial (even though she refused to actually do it) in an affectionate, loyal act. Creon is also family (their father's brother), but he, however, betrays this family trust and loyalty when he sentences Antigone to death for disobeying his law. There are, however, repercussions for this death sentence, that prove that there are two central tragic heroes in this play. She is justified in disobeying this law because everyone deserves to have a proper burial, no matter what they have done, and Antigone is not afraid to face the consequences of her actions. In fact, she publicly declares what she has done. We see that while her act seems brave and noble, there might be alternate motives for burying him, and that it could be considered a self-righteous act.
Antigone is justified in burying her brother because no person should have to rot in the sun and be eaten by animals. Furthermore, the Greeks believed that a person who remains unburied cannot properly rest or enter the afterlife. Creon, the King of Thebes, made a very clear decree that anyone caught burying this body would be punished with death. Antigone knew of this law and still decided to break it. At first, the audience might question whether or not she was justified in breaking the law. C.M. Bowra writes in Reading On Antigone, "The Greeks, whose political liberties were intimately associated with the existence of laws, prided themselves upon them, with reason. It was the possession of laws that distinguished Greece from barbarian countries
Antigone, in defiance of
this established sentiment, sets herself above Creon's law and...
Cited: 1. Fagles, Robert. "Antigone." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama.
Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 8th ed. New York: Longman, 2001. 1435-1488.
2. Daniels, Charles B. and Sam Scully. What Really Goes on in Sophocles ' Theban Plays.
Maryland: University Press of America, Inc, 1996.
3. Bowra, C.M. "The Community Stands or Falls on the Rule of Law." Readings on Antigone. Ed. Don Nardo. California: San Diego, 1999. 64
4. Bates, William N. "A General Breakdown of the Characters." Readings on Antigone.
Ed. Don Nardo, California: San Diego, 1999. 24, 95.
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