Antigone and Creon: a Comparative Analysis of Moral Justice and Personal Duty

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Category: Religion
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2023/06/19
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Clashing Beliefs of Antigone and Creon

In Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone, each character had a striking personality and powerful beliefs. The two main characters of the tragedy are Antigone and Creon. Both had strong and different ideas about what was wrong and what was right, leading to much conflict between them throughout the tragedy. The heroine, Antigone, had some of the strongest beliefs of them all. Antigone was willing to sacrifice her own life and well-being to honor her fallen brother, Polyneices. Polyneices was killed in battle by her other brother Eteocles. Antigone’s uncle and king of Thebes, Creon, wished to honor only Eteocles’ body with a burial and wanted Polyneices’ corpse to be “carrion for the birds and dogs to tear.” Antigone and Creon clashed in their belief and values throughout the tragedy, but both thought that they had the correct form of moral justice to teach to the people of Thebes. In other words, while both Antigone and Creon had a strong sense of moral justice, Creon believed that citizenship meant complete obedience to the will of the state, while Antigone believed that her actions were right because they followed the laws of the Gods.

As mentioned above, Antigone and Creon had different ideas about what was right and what was wrong. Antigone believed that her actions were right because she did them for the right reason and because they followed the laws of the Gods. On the other hand, Creon believed that his actions were the “just” ones because he believed that Polynices was a traitor. Hence, anyone who wanted to offer him a decent burial should be sentenced to death. Antigone went against Creon’s law, fully aware of the fact that she would have to sacrifice her own life. She went ahead because she felt that she was morally and ethically right. Antigone believed that the laws of the gods were more important than human law. Antigone’s decision to defy Creon’s law may be justified if one considers the fact that an individual has the right to reject society curbing his or her freedom to perform a personal duty, which in this case was given a proper burial to one who had died.

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Antigone’s Strong Beliefs

Antigone’s decision to bury Polynices also arose from a desire to bring honor to her family, not just to the gods. Antigone’s strong belief in standing up for family and her religious beliefs were the two factors that influenced her decision to break Creon’s law and bury her brother. When her sister tells her that she should not break the law, Antigone says, “I owe a longer allegiance to the dead than to the living: in that world, I shall abide forever.” This meant that she held the belief that all the dead should be treated in the same way. To Antigone, the laws of the Gods were much more important than the laws of man. Alternatively, Creon believed that citizenship meant complete obedience to the will of the state. That was why he sentenced Antigone to death when he thought that she had gone against her citizenship by disobeying him. Creon’s decision not to allow the burial of Polynices was based on the laws of citizenship that were prevalent in Greece then. The Greeks buried their citizens after a battle and considered burial as a sign of recognition of citizenship.

Ethical Dilemma: Divine Law vs Human Law

Both Creon and Antigone justified their actions by attributing them to the necessity of performing one’s duty. Creon believed in obedience to man-made laws. This was why he said, “But disobedience is the worst of evils. This is it that ruins cities; this makes homes desolate; by this, the ranks of allies are broken into a head-long rout; but, of the lives whose course is fair, the greater part owes safety to obedience.” Antigone believed in her duty to the gods and one’s family. She considered these to be higher than man-made laws. She believed in the supremacy of the Natural Law, and Creon himself realized this when he lost his family. Due to this, it can be said that the tragedy was about divine law vs human law. Accordingly, Antigone was more right than wrong. She made her own decisions and stuck by those decisions with great confidence and poise.

Conclusion: A Complex Moral Landscape

To conclude, while both Antigone and Creon had a strong sense of moral justice, Creon believed that citizenship meant complete obedience to the will of the state, while Antigone believed that her actions were right because they followed the laws of the Gods. Both Creon and Antigone justified their actions by attributing them to the necessity of performing one’s duty. But Antigone and Creon had different ideas about what was right and what was wrong. Antigone believed that her actions were right because she did them for the right reason and because they followed the law of the Gods. On the other hand, Creon believed that his actions were the right ones because he believed that Polynices was a traitor and hence anyone who wanted to offer him a proper burial should be sentenced to death. Antigone went against Creon’s law, fully aware of the fact that she would have to sacrifice her own life in order to give her brother a proper burial.

Reference

  1. The Antigone of Sophocles: An English Version by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1939.

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Antigone and Creon: A Comparative Analysis of Moral Justice and Personal Duty. (2023, Jun 19). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/antigone-and-creon-a-comparative-analysis-of-moral-justice-and-personal-duty/