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Embedded Scene for Antigone: Scene 2, Ode 2, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 955

Essay

Antigone is the third part of Sophocles’ Theban trilogy and its chronological conclusion, following Oedipus Rex, or Oedipus the King, and  Oedipus at Colonus. These three plays all discuss issues surrounding the downfall of the tyrant Oedipus and his royal family, although it does not appear that the plays were envisioned as a cohesive series. Moreover, many scholars contends that Antigone was originally penned as a stand-alone play or even a facet of another series. Indeed, Antigone examines a variety of issues, particular regarding gender issues in a society that is highly steeped in patriarchy. In addition, it further examines issues surrounding justice and the role that government has in issues relation to personal and familial issues. At the fulcrum of the entire play is the theme of filial piety and duty versus submitting to authority. Antigone feels obligated to bury her slain brother despite the fact that he betrayed the state, and King Creon refuses to bury him because of his betrayal. Antigone refuses to allow her brother’s death to be in vain, which prompts King Creon to take swift action against her. As a woman, Antigone was expected to obey authority, especially the men in her life and the mandates of the state. However, she chooses to transgress the political and social mores of the culture she was born into in order to do the right thing and bury her brother. The dyad of the individual versus community thus figures prominently in various scenes.

In Scene 2, state officials bring Antigone before King Creon in order to explain why she buried her brother even though state orders prohibited her from doing so. The two figures engage in a heated dialogue, and she questions the authority and currency of King Creon’s arbitrary edict regarding her brother versus the law of the Gods, which mandated that her brother, Polyniece, receive a proper burial. Creon is Antigone’s uncle, and he only allowed for Eteocles, Antigone’s brother who extirpated in the civil war and fought for Creon, to be buried properly. King Creon shows little humility, and gives Antigone a death sentence despite the fact that the sentry and chorus express their disapproval. In addition, Antigone confronts her sister, Ismene, tries to share Antigone’s punishment despite the fact she steadfastly refused to help her sister bury their brother. As such, she is too fickle to disobey arbitrary state orders because of the need to submit to the law of the land. This scene thus explores a myriad of issues that are at the heart of this play, as Antigone exhibits attributes of the tragic hero despite King Creon’s arrogance and hubris. Indeed, hubris is a theme that various Greek authors explored with regards to kings or protagonists and antagonists believing that they were above divine law. Interestingly, both the protagonist and antagonist in this pivotal scene are discursively framed as tragic flaws: Creon because of his hubris and unwillingness to accept that an “irrational” woman disobeyed his edict in order to follow the law of the gods; and Antigone because her actions are so driven by her emotions to bury her slain brother. Excessive pride often drives people to forget or eschew the morals that undergird the human condition. As a result, they eventually meet their demise or are left isolated and social pariahs because natural law, intrinsic morals, and divine justice always prevails.

Although Antigone was written thousands of years ago, its currency lies in its relevance to any epoch because the themes it explores are universal. In this scene, Antigone questions whether a man-made law, or a law passed by a certain country’s leaders, should supersede the law of the gods, or natural law. In the modern era, politicians continue to legislate people’s natural rights in prejudicial and unjust ways. As such, hotly contested, fierce debates have germinated in public discourses as a result. In addition, Antigone belongs to a highly stratified, patriarchal society in which women have subaltern status and are muted in the grand narrative. However, she refuses to let her gender prevent her from doing what she believes in right, so a Greek audience would have perceived her actions as an unequivocal transgression of her prescribed gender role as a subservient women. Antigone is so driven by her moral compass and filial duty that she is willing to die in order to follow her conscience. While the Greeks most likely portrayed Antigone in a more pejorative manner, more modern interpretations would present her as a martyr for her cause—and some could say, her gender—as an archetypal woman in the same way that Joan of Arc has been perceived in retroactive, historical narratives. Indeed, Antigone seemingly refuses to submit to the authoritarian demands of an unjust, and immoral regime from her point of view. Creon thus appears in this scene as a political dictator whose hubris and need for control drive him to unjustly oppress his political subjects, which results in modern audiences sympathizing with Antigone rather than siding with her corollary. Such intimations suggest that modern portrayals of this scene can be perceived as a warning to modern democratic governments what would happen if democracy was eschewed in favor of more authoritarian approaches to governance. Antigone refuses to blindly obey to those in power simply because they are in power. Rather, she exerts her own agency in order to fight for what is right, a universal theme that is evident in public discourses and political and social dialogue today.

Although in the western world today, the law does sentence people to death in such a draconian manner, this play nonetheless calls into question the currency and justice in sentencing someone to death for a crime that is constructed by politicians rather than one that is naturally and intrinsically criminal. Nonetheless, Greek tragedy is relevant to modern contingencies and addresses some of the very problems western society confronts today.

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