Antigone is a drama based on a fictional work written by Sophocles, that recounts the tragic plight of Antigone, after she defied the order of King Creon. However, the civil disobedience exemplified by the main character seeks to awaken the moral courage of every citizen who lives under a harsh rule. It is submitted that every person has a moral obligation to stand against oppression and injustice, even if it means offending the existing laws.
The story of Antigone revolves around the courageous story of the main female character. Her brothers, Polyneices and Eteocles fought a battle leading to their untimely death. The king of Thebes, Creon, ordered not to bury the body of Polyneices for being a rebel. The start of the play showed how Antigone convinced her sister Ismene to bury their brotherr’s body. Ismene refused as it was a clear defiance of the kingr’s order, but Antigone still pursued. Upon learning this, Creon confronted Antigone, who did not deny her civil disobedience. Despite the plea of Haemon, Creonr’s son and Antigoner’s fiance, to forgive her, the king still ordered her to be sent to the cave. Antigone, who was then sorrowful, took away her life by hanging herself inside the cave. Upon learning of Antigoner’s death, Haemon stabbed himself. When Haemonr’s mother, Eurydice, learned of his death, she also took away her life. Creon, devastated of his son and wifer’s death, condemned himself for his unfortunate fate.
The philosophical essay that is relevant to the discussion is the Day of Affirmation, delivered by Robert Kennedy in 1966 at the University of Cape Town (Kennedy 379). This essay is relevant to the thesis, because it resonates the aim of Antigone in defying the order of the king. When Kennedy delivered the speech, racial discrimination was rampant because Apartheid was still in place.
Kennedy addressed the speech to the students of Africa, with the aim of challenging them to stand against oppression and injustice, and bring social change in their society. In the same vein, Antigoner’s civil disobedience was an expression of her desire to challenge the existing status quo, under pain of punishment. The oppressive act came after Creon ordered that Eteocles (Antigoner’s brother) be given military honors and soldierr’s funeral, while Polyneices should not. This was deemed unfair on the part of Antigone, because both deceased were her brothers whom, she believed, have fought bravely. She gave no distinction, but gave equal regard to their contribution.
Kennedy said, so too in life of the honorable and good it is they who act rightly who win the prize. I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the world (Kennedy 382). These lines highlight the importance of doing morally good, a deed that Antigone showed. Antigone acknowledged the importance of unwritten laws, which she perceived as divine. She invoked the unwritten code in the society to justify her act of defying the written law. It was clear that Antigone was guided by the principle of the gods, which justified her act of disobedience to the order of the king.
One of the scenes that illustrate the moral courage of Antigone was the confrontation between the main character and King Creon. This scene was effective in portraying the courage of the main character, and her gender being a female bolstered this. She did not only resist incorporation or domination, but also explanation or categorization. As opposed to the character of her sister Ismene, who has been depicted as an assailable and disempowered woman, Antigone was a sharp contrast. In other words, the protagonist displayed an unorthodox character of an ancient Greek woman. During their confrontation, she was not assisted by any single person, while Creon was surrounded by many guards.
Yet, Antigone spoke without regrets and fear. When Creon asked her if she was the one who buried the body of Polyneices, Antigone bravely answered Yes I am guilty Because it is your law, not the law of god You are merely a man like me, and laws you enact cannot overturn ancient moral laws (Antigone BBC). She also acknowledged that she was not afraid of death as punishment.
This scene explained why the law was oppressive and unfair. Aside from the fact that she valued her blood relationship with Polyneices, the kingr’s order was also not in consonance with the law of god. Her fierce conviction resonated what Kennedy had said that it was dangerous to be timid – the state of being afraid of disapproval from fellows, censure from colleagues, and wrath of the society (Kennedy 382). He encouraged every person to have a moral courage, the same value that Antigone showed in the play. She was prepared for any punishment that Creon might give, even if it was her death.
Antigone is the epitome of courage, worthy to emulate. The heart and soul of civil disobedience is the defiance of the written laws, to stop oppression and injustice. Antigone was right in the play, because her acts were aligned with the higher law the divine law. Although she died in the story, Creon received a harsher punishment, when his son and wife died. In the end, the audience could feel how Creon regretted his act of following his order and defying the law of the gods.
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