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Making Sense of Antigone - Essay Example

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Making Sense of Antigone Antigone is one of the most memorable female protagonists in classical Greek literature. Her story, depicted in many versions tells of a tragedy of a young girl who defied a king in order to bury his brother with dignity. The character is powerful and this is not only because she rebelled against one who represented power and order but that she did it alone…
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Making Sense of Antigone
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Making Sense of Antigone Antigone is one of the most memorable female protagonists in ical Greek literature. Her story, depicted in many versions tells of a tragedy of a young girl who defied a king in order to bury his brother with dignity. The character is powerful and this is not only because she rebelled against one who represented power and order but that she did it alone. Borne out of the incestuous marriage between King Oedipus of Thebes and his mother Queen Jocasta, Antigone became the subject of the popular story wherein she fights for a respectable funeral for her brother Polynices. When King Oedipus died, it was ruled that Polynices and his brother Eteocles were to rule Thebes on a term-sharing basis. Polynices did not agree to this and waged war against his brother where he was killed. He was declared a traitor and refused burial as punishment. In the play by Sophocles, Antigone buried her brother in defiance and was captured and punished for the act. As a consequence, she was buried in a cave as punishment where she eventually hanged herself. To say that Antigone is tough is an understatement. She was a woman and when she decided to act according to her own sense of morality, everyone she knew refused to help - her sister Ismene, the Nurse, her lover Haemon and the city she loved. But it did not deter her. She single-handedly defied Creon and all the authority he represented. Some would say it is hubris, with the protagonist thinking that she is righteous and better than the rest of the pack, arguing that like her father, she was blinded by her own sense of self-worth and sense of justification. However, one must remember the context of Antigone’s circumstance. Her life has been consisted of numerous tragedies: the incestuous relationship of her parents, the banishment of his father and the killings of her brothers. Her family history has been marred with intrigue, betrayal and murder. Her devotion to her family has been widely accounted for in different versions of her story. Her fierce loyalty to her dead brother, hence, is not at all incongruent to what she is as a person and what she has become with all her travails. It is like the world has been steadily crumbling around her all her life and she desperately tried to navigate through it all by clinging to the only thing she knew she could do something about. There was a sense of powerlessness to her naivete but she struggled to break such weakness even when she died in the process. An interesting aspect about Antigone's characterization is that she was able to interact with all of the characters in the play. There was Ismene, Haemon, the chorus, Creon, and, of course, Euridice. Antigone has strongly affected each of these characters, making her rebellion contagious and effective at the end. She was able to change Ismene's point of view and actions in the latter stage of the play as well as that of Haemon's and Euridice's. These past two characters represented Antigone's (and her cause) most potent effect as they committed suicide after she died. The result was revolutionary. When Haemon found her body, he killed himself. And their absence, Euridice became the embodiment of Antigone's cause by standing up to her husband and showing him his errors. She punctuated her accusation by killing herself as well. As Creon was left alone, with everyone dead, both he and the audience were left with a heavily altered status quo and a final thought that the laws of men may be enforced or maintained but that it will crumble when it goes against the law go the gods. Literary characterizations are often elusive with regards to what concepts, motivations and symbolisms they represent. Antigone’s case is an excellent example. However, one must only look beyond the actions of the character in order to have an idea about her function, her intentions and the legitimacy of her causes. Fortunately for Antigone, we have the tragedy of her family. They serve as a backdrop for the arguments that justified her cause. In addition, one must also consider the outcome. The original intention of the writer is often determined how he resolved all the problems and questions in the narrative. When Antigone died, the things she fought for did not die with her. Other characters took them up to fruition, which confirmed their validity. As those characters that Antigone interacted with had their respective changes of heart, the tragedy of her story was made more pronounced and the impact of her character more meaningful. Read More
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