To Break or Not to Break
Professor. Van Slyck
October 4, 2011
To Break or Not to Break?
All through the play of Antigone, written by Sophocles, Antigone believes in the supremacy of religious law and tradition. Although Creon has proclaimed to the city that the traitor, Polynices, should not be buried, Antigone insists on following the religious law requiring that females bury the deceased of their family. Antigone’s pride ensures that she will die rather than renounce her beliefs or loyalty towards her brother, thereby brining further tragedy to herself and others.
Antigone is a young uncompromising and determined woman who believes that “we have little time to please the living but all eternity to love the dead” (Sophocles 128). which demonstrates the loyalty she ha for her brother Polynices. She has made a firm decision in burying her brother and no one can tell her otherwise. Antigone’s motivation from beginning to end is the unconditional love and devotion she has for her brother, Polynices. This is what brings her to her final courageous decision in accepting full responsibility for her actions and acknowledging that execution is the penalty for anyone who disobeys the royal decree. Antigone begins to have a conversation with her younger sister, Ismene, explaining how she will go about burying her brother, Polynices. At one point she asks Ismene if she can help her lift the body. Ismene apologizes and replies, no, because she will be going against her uncle King Creon’s orders and is aware that execution is the punishment. Antigone isn’t so pleased with the answer and replies, “Is he not my brother, and yours, whether you like it or not? I shall never desert him, never” (Sophocles 128). In other words, she doesn’t mind dying. She refuses to betray Polyncies and will not leave him above ground exposed to the elements, dogs and birds but will rather grant him a proper burial. Ismene attempts to talk sense into her sister Antigone, but
Cited: Sophocles. Antigone. In The Theban Plays. Trans. E.F Watling. London: Penguin, 1974.