Moral Conflict in Antigone by Sophocles - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Class 4 December 2011 Antigone and its Moral Conflicts When do people draw the line between familial duties and civic responsibilities? Antigone chooses her family over her civic duties in Antigone by Sophocles. G.W. Hegel is one of the philosophers who find the antitheses and conflicts in Antigone perplexing, because of the complexities inherent in these conflicts (Woodruff xiii)…
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Moral Conflict in Antigone by Sophocles
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Download file to see previous pages On the other hand, her civil disobedience has widespread repercussions on the integrity of the ruler and the stability of the state. This paper analyzes and discusses the varied moral conflicts in this play. Several conflicts can be found in Antigone, particularly the conflict between authority and family duties, natural law and positive law, conscience and civic ethics, and duties to man and duties to the gods. The play explores the conflict between authority and family duties. Creon already decrees that Polyneices will not have a proper burial as a traitor to Thebes. He says: Him I decree that none should dare entomb, That none should utter wail or loud lament, But leave his corpse unburied, by the dogs And vultures mangled, foul to look upon. (Sophocles lines 233-236). Antigone, however, is willing to contradict her King and decides to bury Polyneices, because she is bound to her family duties. She asserts this to Ismene, who dissuades her from disobeying Creon: “At least he is my brother-and yours, too,/....I will not prove false to him” (Sophocles 51-52). Ismene reminds Antigone that she should obey the King's authority: “We twain shall perish, if, against the law,/We brave our sovereign’s edict and his power” (Sophocles 67-68). ...
He tells him: “Yea, to learn much, and know the time to yield,/Brings no disgrace... (Sophocles 806-807). He asks his father to yield to other people's reason. For him, the law is not absolute if it will hurt personal ties. Creon, however, will not listen to a woman or his own counsel and family. He says: “Shall we at our age stoop to learn from him” (Sophocles 823). He undermines the youth of his son. For him, Haemon does not have the experience, and consequently, the wisdom, to rule over him. Creon also says: “...While I live, at least,/A woman shall not rule” (Sophocles 592-593). He will, most especially, not change his law for a woman, which depicts misogyny during his time. Thus, for Creon, his law is supreme over all family ties. Antigone also illustrates the conflict between positive and natural law. Positive law refers to the law of the state, while natural law pertains to the “unwritten law” (Burns 546). Aristotle argues that Antigone depicts the conflict between positive and natural law, or between human nature and the “polis” (Burns 546). Creon emphasizes his will as the will of the state to Haemon: “The state, I pray,/It is not reckoned his who governs it?” (Sophocles 841-842). Antigone questions the validity of Creon's positive law: “Who traced these laws for all the sons of men;/Nor did I deem thy edicts strong enough,/Coming from mortal man, to set at naught” (Sophocles 495-497). She argues that the unwritten or natural laws are more important than positive laws. Natural laws have the strength of permanence, while positive laws change with the changing of rulers. Furthermore, natural law refers to what the people feel as right, or something is universal. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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