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Antigone's Moral Decision in Sophocles' Antigone

This study will examine the moral decision of Antigone, in Sophocles' play Antigone, to bury her dead brother against the legal decree of Creon, the King of Thebes. Antigone grants that her brother Polyneices has indeed broken the law by trying to take over Thebes (the reason that Creon wants to disallow his burial), but Antigone argues that there is a higher law than the legal code, a higher law which is based on the sacred tie of blood relations. She argues that the gods support her in her effort to bury her brother. The decision may cost her her life, but she is determined to do everything she can to follow and abide by what she sees as a higher moral calling. After an examination of the decision itself, this study will apply the ethical theories of Immanuel Kant and Jeremy Bentham to that decision.

Creon and Antigone could not stand in more stark contrast to one another in terms of the qualities important to each. Creon may have the civic law on his side, and he may argue from that basis, at least on the surface, but the play shows that his major concerns are pride and revenge, not following the law. Antigone, on the other hand, cares only about doing what is right according to the highest standards of humanity and of the gods. She wants to bury her brother as much as Creon wants to prevent his burial. A powerful clue to the essential stands of each character is that Antigone determinedly maintains her ethical stand to the end, while Creon changes his mind and buries Polyneices--although he acts too late to avert the catastrophe prophesied by Teiresias.

Antigone shows herself to be fearless in trying to bury her brother. Her sister Ismene reminds her that she will be killed if she tries to bury their brother, but Antigone simply says "He is my brother" and "Creon is not strong enough to stand in my way" She argues that if it is a crime she will commit in trying to bury her brother it is a "holy" crime, and in any case she ...

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Antigone's Moral Decision in Sophocles' Antigone. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 03:35, May 26, 2022, from