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Antigone, War Of Beliefs Essay, Research Paper
War of Beliefs
In the play, “Antigone” written by Sophocles, Antigone and Creon battle a philosophical war based on their beliefs of what is right and wrong. The conflict arose when the principles that backed up their actions clashed with each other, making it a contradiction between morals. Antigone’s side of the conflict held a much more heavenly
approach, as opposed to the mundane road that Creon chose to follow. I chose the passage from pages 341-364 to illustrate the differences of beliefs, opinions, and moral values that Antigone and Creon had through out the play.
Antigone feels that Creon is disregarding the laws of heaven through his edict. After she is captured and brought to Creon, she tells him, “Your edict, King was strong, but all your strength is weakness itself against the immortal unrecorded laws of God. They are not merely now: they were, and shall be, operative for ever, beyond man utterly.” (Page 349). Antigone’s staunch opinion is one that supports the Gods and the laws of heaven. Her reasoning is set by her belief that if someone is not given a proper burial, that person would not be accepted into heaven. Antigone was a very religious person, and acceptance of her brother by the Gods was very important to her. She felt that ” I will bury him; and if I must die, I say that this crime is holy: I shall lie down with him in death, and I shall be as dear to him as he to me.” (Page 341). Creon’s order was personal to Antigone. His edict invaded her family life as well as the Gods. In Antigone’s eyes, Creon betrayed the laws of the Gods by not allowing her to properly bury her brother, Polynices. She believed that the burial was a religious ceremony, and Creon did not have the power to deny Polynices that right. Antigone’s strong belief towards the burial of her brother is what, in many cases, led her to her death by the hands of Creon. Since Creon was ruler, whatever he said was the law, and since Antigone broke this “said” law Creon was in a sense to blame, because if there was no law Antigone wouldn’t have died. Never, though, did she stop defending what she thought was right. Right before her death, Antigone exclaimed, ” you see me now, the last unhappy daughter of a line of kings, your kings, led away to death. You will remember what things I suffer and at what men’s hands, because I would not transgress the laws of heaven.” (Page 360). This quote shows once again her religious belief, but more importantly, she feels that Creon is abusing his power as king and dealing with her task to a personal level.
Creon’s actions are guided by the fact that, ” no Ruler can expect complete loyalty from his subjects until he has been tested in office.” (Page 343). Setting the example using Polynices’ body left unburied is a symbol of Creon’s action to achieve the loyalty that he desired. ” As long as I am King, no traitor is going to be honored with the loyal man.” (Page 344). This quote shows that leaving the body unburied is done to show respect for Thebes. After all, how could the ruler of a city-state honor a man who attempted to invade and conquer his city, but this was not the belief of Antigone. She believed that everyone deserved the right to have a proper burial, no matter what.
So because of this belief Creon turned Antigone into “his prisoner”, and not the publics. In fact, the general population supported Antigone, though they were too scared to say anything. Haimon, the son of Creon, knew of this, and told Creon, “Died so shameful a death for a generous act: ‘She covered her brother’s body. Is this indecent? She kept him from dogs and vultures. Is this a crime? Death? – She should have all the honor that we can give her!’ This is the way they talk out there in the city.” (Page 355). This proves that Creon was exercising complete domination of political power. Also, not allowing Antigone to perform her religious ceremony of burying her brother is interfering with religious affairs. This denied Antigone her freedom of religion.
The contradictions between the beliefs of Creon and Antigone are strong throughout the play. Both have well-structured arguments, but neither completely dominates the other. Antigone is motivated by her strong religious feelings while Creon is out to make good for his city-state. The Chorus’ opinion is the determining factor, as in the end, they convince Creon to set Antigone free. Creon had to weigh each factor carefully, and in the end, he had to decide between his morals and his beliefs. His mind was torn in two. ” Oh it is hard to give in! But it is worse to risk everything for stubborn pride.” (Page 364). The contradiction of beliefs was what led to Antigone’s, Haimon’s, and Megareus’ death. Both sides were just, all beliefs were supported. But, Creon was forced to decide the unanswerable and determine right from wrong when there was no clear answer. Just the fact that Antigone was killed basically for her religious beliefs, shows to me that the whole political system of those times were really screwed up. However I give Creon some credit, because in the end he finally sucked in his foolish pride and did what was right.
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