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Antigone Was a Coward - Essay Example

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Antigone was a coward. Some people think that Antigone is a heroine because she stands up for her dead brother and then has the courage to take her own life rather than suffer the consequences of a whole situation that she does not agree with. They cite as evidence for this view the fact that the play is named after her, and not after the other main characters such as Creon, who is the king and the one in a position of power…
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Antigone Was a Coward
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Antigone Was a Coward

Download file to see previous pages... The role of the Chorus is to explain what is going on, and they often mention how people are guided by fate, as for example in the words “There’s no release for mortal human beings./ not from events which destiny has set (Antigone, lines 1337-1338). From this perspective Polyneices has to die, and Creon has to enforce the law, because it is their destiny to do so. They do not have any choice in the matter. Antigone’s destiny is to be a woman and stand by with no power, watching this happening, and mourning her brother and the shame of his non-buried state. If she had truly been heroic, then she would have faced up to the consequences of her actions in defying Creaon. As it is, however, she gives in to self-pity rather than enduring the imprisonment in the cave. There is more evidence of Antigone’s cowardice in her concern for her own long term reputation and future destiny after death. She makes a big thing of the noble reputation that she and her sister Ismene have gained from their famous father, Oedipus. Antigone tries to persuade Ismene to share the blame with her, and she does this by trying to blackmail her with reference to their ancestors: “Antigone: Now you know, and you’ll quickly demonstrate whether you are nobly born, or else a girl unworthy of her splendid ancestors” (Antigone, lines 45-47). Antigone is not concerned so much about her brother, but she really is concerned about her own reputation. She fears being criticized by other people and the whole point about burying Polyneices is to make sure that she avoids any scandal coming back to affect her. She feels personally slighted by the sight of his body and makes this clear when she says “I’ll hate you if you’re going to talk that way. And you’ll rightly earn the loathing of the dead. I won’t suffer anything as bad as a disgraceful death” (Antigone, lines 114-119). Ismene is more reasonable, and she points out that this crazy act of trying to bury the body will not affect the way that Antigone is seen by others. Ismene reminds Antigone that “even though your mission makes no sense, your friends do truly love you” (Antigone, lines 121-122). People are much more sympathetic than Antigone thinks they are, and her arrogance is what makes her carry on with this futile gesture, rather than any heroic requirement to fulfil a religious duty. Antigone appears to be brave when she plans to go and bury the body, but in fact she is very afraid of bad consequences in the afterlife. Her religious beliefs mean that she has been taught to place eternal salvation as the greatest goal in life, and proper burial is a part of that. She is afraid that she will suffer the displeasure of the gods if she fails to carry out their commands regarding her brother. This means that if the story is regarded from the perspective of the afterlife, it means she is really acting out of her own self-interest. One of the most significant moments in the play is when Antigone rejects her sister’s attempt to share the blame. Even though she spent some time trying to persuade Ismene that it was her duty to defy Creaon, as mentioned above, she then mocks Ismene and even accuses her of trying to get the credit for burying the body without actually doing the work! Ismene is ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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This essay analyzes the causes of moral conflicts in Antigone and its effects. The causes of moral conflict in this play are the differences between familial and citizen responsibilities and differences between duties to the gods and duties to the state, while the effects of the moral conflict is the loss of loved ones for Creon, due to Antigone’s suicide.
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