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There are many principles that exist in Sophocles' "Antigone". Three that are at stake in the central conflict are; the role of gender, pride, and human law vs. moral/divine law. Within these principles, the principle of power is intertwined.
The principle of the role of gender is explored throughout "Antigone". The role of gender is a key principle as Creon relates women to being inferior to men. They must obey a man's every command, and if they should go against man, then they should be punished. Antigone opposes this role every opportunity she obtains. She tries to gain power by burying her brother and standing up to King Creon. It opens up by Antigone speaking to Ismene. Antigone wants to giver her brother, Polyneices, a proper burial even if this means she will be violating the decree of the king. Ismene reminds Antigone that they are only women. This means that they are vulnerable. Ismene feels she is powerless, while Antigone wants to gain power as a woman. "I will not put dishonor on them, but to act in defiance of the citizenry, my nature does not give me means for that," stated Ismene. (89-91) Here it is expressed that the role of women is limited. She says her nature does not enable her to do so.
Antigone feels that the role of women might be limited, but by giving her brother a proper burial, she is taking a stand. "I shall be a criminal - but a religious one, " states Antigone. (84-5) Through martyrdom Antigone can gain power. Since women are oppressed in Greek society as stated by Ismene, martyrdom is the only means of gaining power. Antigone has obligations to two men, Creon and Polyneices. By marrying Haemon she will have yet another man to obey. By becoming a martyr, she will no longer be under the influence, and control of men, and would have control over herself.
Antigone goes against the decree of King Creon, and must be dealt with. Creon states, "I swear I am no man and she the man if she can win this and not pay for it." (528-9) Here Creon's manhood is at stake, and will not take part in a role reversal with Antigone. If Creon lets Antigone go without punishment he is showing weakness as a male, and giving strength to the role of the female. He shows his power by standing his ground, and not letting women take control. Creon furthers his argument by not being mastered by a woman as stated in line 578, "When I am alive no woman shall rule." He states that the role of women must be kept in line. Antigone has crossed that line, and is trying to change her status, and role as a woman.
At this point in "Antigone", Creon is arguing with the chorus, Antigone, and Ismene. He feels his son can find another wife, and does not want one that is bad for his son. He feels that Antigone must be punished, whether or not she is his future daughter-in-law, or anything else for that matter. "From this time forth, these must be women, and not free to roam," stated Creon. (636-7) Restriction of movement, and submission to the authority of men, describes women as a category. Women are meant to be suppressed according to Creon. Antigone must not be free to roam, which means that she must not go unpunished. She must be a woman, and play this role. Creon exemplifies this point by saying, "If we must accept defeat, let it be from a man we must not let people say that a woman beat us."(733-4) Again he will not let a woman surpass him. If Antigone were a man, there might have been room for discussion, but because she is a woman, she must be conquered. He acknowledges that the role of man is superior to a woman, and he will not accept defeat from one that is inferior.
The principle of pride is explored through "Antigone". Pride in the Greek culture is characterized in either strength or one's self-destruction. Creon, being a new king, wants to prove his abilities as one. He is being harsh, so the people of Thebes don't take him for an easy king which leads to other problems arising. Creon feels that if someone dishonors the city in which he rules they must be punished. If Polyneices is not punished then his power may be taken for granted by the people of Thebes. They would think of him as a weak king. However in order to be a strong king, one must be strict and firm in one's decisions. Creon portrays these characteristics, and lets his pride take over by ruling out of strength and pride that is at the cost of knowledge and wisdom.
Antigone refuses to yield to Creon's decree, while Creon refuses to let Antigone go without punishment. Antigone questions Creon if there is anything else he desires besides executing her, and he response by saying, "Once I have that I have everything." (543) Here one can see that Creon will strop at nothing to punish Antigone for her action.
After Creon sentences Antigone to be punished, Haemon talks to his father about his decision. Pride is further explored in this stichomacia amongst the two. Haemon says that part of wisdom is the ability to acknowledge other points of view, and accept counsel. Creon responds to this by saying, "Should the city tell me how I am to rule them?"(794) He is enraged at this point. He feels his son is inferior, and he is the ruler not the people. Creon's pride took over, and can not even let him analyze Haemon's remark subjectively. Automatically Haemon was wrong and he was right as the pride took over. According to Greek democracy, the ruled are suppose to control the ruler. Creon does not want to hear this. The question he asked is a rhetorical one. His pride has already answered this question.
Teiresias the prophet comes to Creon in an attempt to stop the terrible fate that lay ahead. He tells Creon that the gods are unhappy. Teiresias tells him that a man who makes a mistake, and then corrects it, brings no shame on himself. Creon that accuses Teiresias of being a greedy manipulator. Teiresias warns him that in a few days, one of his children will die, a life for a life, because he kept one above the earth who should have been buried, while putting below the earth, one that should walk among the living.(1134-1142) Creon's pride is slowly disappearing as he has just heard a terrible prophecy. Creon is now uncertain of the actions he had taken. He asks others for advice, and concludes that he made a rash decision. Antigone must be called upon immediately. Creon finally overcame his pride, and attempts to take the proper action.
Creon swallows his pride, but it is too late. He gives Polyneices the proper burial. He calls for Antigone to come out from the cave, however Antigone has already hung herself. Creon finds out that Haemon has taken his own sword to himself as well. Eurydice, his wife, could not handle all that had occurred, and commits suicide as well. Creon's pride led to the death of everyone around him. He did not swallow his pride soon enough. He changes his mind only when motivated by personal emotion, not abstract theory, which was exactly what Antigone believed in when she disobeyed his command. Unfortunately, his pride led to his self-destruction. Antigone's pride led to her demise as well, but in the process she gained strength, as she willingly took her own life, and not due to other circumstances or people.
The last principle that is explored in "Antigone" is human law vs. moral/divine law. Creon's regard for the laws set forth by him, even if other beliefs, moral or religious, state otherwise. In the beginning, the chorus feels that "if he honors the laws of earth, and the injustice of the gods he has confirmed by oath, high is his city, no city has he with whom dwells dishonor prompted by recklessness."(404-408) The chorus is describing Creon, and that if he honors the gods all will go as planned, and well. The chorus warns him of the fate that is to come, if he does not obey the will of the gods. Creon dishonors them by punishing Antigone, and hence dishonor dwells in his city. This is prompted by recklessness as Creon does not think things through. He already decided that his law is above divine law.
Antigone on the other hand, hold the beliefs of the gods in high reverence. She feels that the laws of the gods should be obeyed above all others. She holds the immortal to a higher standard than the mortal. She values the gods and her personal beliefs more than the fickle orders of her rulers, and thus performed proper death rites the gods would approve of, though that means certain death. Antigone has the laws of the divine in mind, while Creon has the concern of his city and its greatness in mind. Antigone is called to face Creon after he hears that it was her who went against his decree. There she admits to her criminal behavior. Creon can not comprehend her action. Antigone then explains how divine law was not expressed in Creon's decree. "Yes, it was not Zeus that made the proclamation," stated Antigone.(494) According to Antigone, divine law is above human law. Creon did not receive his proclamation from the gods, but from himself. It can be further argued that Antigone did not receive approval from the gods as well. She states that gods ordinances are "unwritten and secure.(499) This means that one must use their own conscience, and moral beliefs, to decide what is the will of the gods.
The deities need not justify themselves to mortals, and for mortals obedience to the gods is a virtue. Creon has so much faith in his own sense of order that he can not imagine the will of the gods to be different than his own. Teiresias exemplifies this point by stating, "This is the city's sickness - and your plans are the cause of it (1072) ... So the gods will not take our prayers or sacrifice. (1076)" Here Creon's decision has had consequential effects. The entire city is experiencing Creon's rule, and is now suffering. His disdain for sophistry is apparent, but he refuses to see any point of view other than his own, even when the noted Teiresias explains that sacrificial rites are no longer accepted by the gods, due to Creon not changing his ruling on Antigone. He must realize that human law is beneath divine law. In order to correct the problem, Creon must acknowledge this, and compromise his pride, and power, to obey the will of the gods.
The role of gender, pride, and human law vs. moral/divine law are the principles at stake in the central conflict. Through these principles power is intertwined, and they are portrayed in many of the characters. Antigone gains power, and no longer obeys another, as she died. She gained power, and strength, by becoming a martyr. Creon learns of these principles all too late, as the prophecy had already come true. He discovers that one's gender is a fallacy, and pride can be blinding. He also learns that divine law always overpowers human law.
there many principles that exist sophocles antigone three that stake central conflict role gender pride human moral divine within these principles principle power intertwined principle role gender explored throughout antigone role gender principle creon relates women being inferior they must obey every command they should against then they should punished antigone opposes this every opportunity obtains tries gain power burying brother standing king creon opens speaking ismene wants giver brother polyneices proper burial even this means will violating decree king ismene reminds that only women this means vulnerable ismene feels powerless while wants gain power woman will dishonor them defiance citizenry nature does give means stated here expressed women limited says nature does enable feels might limited giving brother proper burial taking stand shall criminal religious states through martyrdom gain since oppressed greek society stated martyrdom only gaining obligations creon polyneices marrying haemon will have another obey becoming martyr longer under influence control would have control over herself goes against decree king must dealt with states swear here manhood stake take part reversal with lets without punishment showing weakness male giving strength female shows standing ground letting take control furthers argument being mastered woman stated line when alive woman shall rule states must kept line crossed line trying change status point arguing with chorus feels find another wife does want punished whether future daughter anything else matter from time forth these free roam restriction movement submission authority describes category meant suppressed according free roam which unpunished play exemplifies point saying accept defeat from people beat again surpass were there might have been room discussion because conquered acknowledges superior accept defeat from inferior pride explored through pride greek culture characterized either strength self destruction being wants prove abilities harsh people thebes take easy which leads other problems arising someone dishonors city which rules punished polyneices then taken granted people thebes would think weak however order strong strict firm decisions portrays these characteristics lets over ruling strength cost knowledge wisdom refuses yield decree while refuses without punishment questions there anything else desires besides executing response saying once everything here strop nothing punish action after sentences haemon talks father about decision further explored stichomacia amongst haemon says part wisdom ability acknowledge other points view accept counsel responds saying should city tell rule them enraged point inferior ruler took over even analyze remark subjectively automatically wrong right took according greek democracy ruled suppose ruler want hear question asked rhetorical already answered question teiresias prophet comes attempt stop terrible fate ahead tells gods unhappy teiresias tells makes mistake then corrects brings shame himself accuses teiresias greedy manipulator warns days children life life because kept above earth been buried while putting below earth walk among living slowly disappearing just heard terrible prophecy uncertain actions taken asks others advice concludes made rash decision called upon immediately finally overcame attempts proper action swallows late gives burial calls come cave however already hung herself finds taken sword himself well eurydice wife could handle occurred commits suicide well death everyone around swallow soon enough changes mind only when motivated personal emotion abstract theory exactly what believed when disobeyed command unfortunately self destruction demise well process gained willingly took life other circumstances last human moral divine regard laws forth even beliefs moral religious state otherwise beginning chorus honors laws earth injustice gods confirmed oath high city whom dwells dishonor prompted recklessness chorus describing honors gods planned warns fate come obey dishonors them punishing hence dishonor dwells prompted recklessness think things through already decided above divine hand hold beliefs high reverence laws obeyed above others holds immortal higher standard than mortal values personal beliefs more than fickle orders rulers thus performed death rites would approve though certain death mind concern greatness mind called face after hears went against admits criminal behavior comprehend action explains expressed zeus made proclamation according human receive proclamation himself further argued receive approval ordinances unwritten secure their conscience decide what deities need justify themselves mortals mortals obedience virtue much faith sense order imagine different than exemplifies stating sickness your plans cause prayers sacrifice decision consequential effects entire experiencing rule suffering disdain sophistry apparent refuses view noted explains sacrificial rites longer accepted changing ruling realize beneath order correct problem acknowledge compromise principles stake central conflict intertwined portrayed many characters gains longer obeys another died gained becoming martyr learns late prophecy come true discovers fallacy blinding also learns always overpowers
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