Sophocles’s Antigone is the story of an admirable civil disobedient who represents democratic or dissident principle by heroically resisting the overreaching sovereign power of her authoritarian uncle. Antigone buries her brother, although it is prohibited, and is sentenced to death for her dissidence.
Antigone’s responsibility to bury her brother
The main character Antigone is a daughter of Jocasta (sister of Creon) and daughter/half-sister of Oedipus (Jocasta’s son/husband, King of Thebes). She is a strong-willed young woman. Her strict features are seen in the episode with the burial of her brother. She decides to bury Polyneices against the edict of her uncle Creon, who became a new king at that time. Creon is Antigone’s uncle, brother of her mother, Jocasta. He was proclaimed regent (or ruler) after Oedipus’s tragic fall from power. He has raised his sister’s children as his own following her descent into madness. He was to rule Thebes until Eteocles and Polyneices could rule together as adults. After their deaths he was proclaimed king in his own right. Antigone buries Polyneices to show respect to him as her brother and as the monarch who shares power with his twin Eteocles immediately before Antigone uncle, Theban King Creon, ascends to the throne. Additionally, Antigone respects the dead, and the god-given procedures for the proper funerary procedures to send the dead into the realm of the underworld god. As ahuman being, Polyneices therefore is eligible for such god-given traditions as certain funerary rites and rituals. She doesn’t want his body desecrated by the elements, dogs, and birds. She prefers love to hatred, and doesn’t want the hating of a supposed enemy to be used as an excuse for not following proper burial procedures.
Antigone does not follow the laws provided by her uncle, she is following what she calls “unwritten law”, and she performs the rituals of the dead while burying her brother. Polyneices has finished his passage through life into death. Every human being spends much more time in the realms of the underworld god than in life. And so Antigone wants to show respect to Hades, the place to which she and all other human beings sooner or later are destined to go. She wants to be able to enter the underworld with the knowledge that she gave proper funerary respect to those with whom she will share eternity. Antigone is committed to her ideals. She does what she considers to be right and does not follow the laws of the king. After the death of her brother Antigone’s sister Ismene refuses to help her bury their brother. Antigone decides to end these relationships, and, when caught, she refuses to let Ismene share the punishment. In the conversation with Creon who tells Antigone that she dishonors her dead brother Eteocles, she replies that he dishonors the gods by refusing to obey the unwritten laws of Zeus. Due to her strict beliefs she complex emotions and strength of conviction she is considered to be a unique Greek woman and …
Posted by: Mackenzie Dahms