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Book Analysis Antigone by Sophocles

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Antigone was a good girl
The world is a very interesting place; each person is so little, but we each cause so much turbulence, and conflict. Specifically, an example of this is the play Antigone. The play is about a teenager named Antigone, who goes against the will of society, to show what she thinks is politically correct. Her uncle Creon shows the opposite, and in turn of events that happen in the play, it leads to Antigone’s and Creon’s son and wife’s death. Sophocles expresses many conflicts in the story. Some of these are youth versus age, man’s law versus god’s law, and the most important, individual versus society. Many people have experienced the latter. One of the most significant examples of was during segregation and the Jim Crowe laws. In this instance many individuals had to go against society to create a better place to live for everyone. Sophocles expresses that society is always more important than the individual as shown through Creon’s hostility, strength, and power.

Sophocles shows that society is more important than the individual with Creon’s hostility. Creon shows his hostility in many ways. One example is his not burying Polynices. There is much controversy over the reason for this, but most of the evidence points towards Creon trying to teach a lesson to his enemies. Not only did he refuse to burry his former son in law, but also he pronounced an edict, that stated that anyone who tried to burry him would be stoned to death. This is very sinister and hostile behavior. Before the play takes place, Polynices was banished to Argos. In a wave of anger he launched an invasion of Thebes with his new army. Thebes emerged victorious from battle, but just barley. Creon wanted to prove that Thebes was not weak, and has undergone a change in leadership, and would be willing to sacrifice any of its citizens, even the son of the ruler, to maintain its military standpoint, safety, and morale. “Etocles, who died while fighting in his country’s service, shall be buried with full ceremonial honors. But Polynices, whose intention was to fight his way back from exile….he’s not to have a grave or any mourning (6).” Further more, Creon was a fictional character, it was Sophocles that created him. Sophocles wanted to express his feeling on the issue of Individual versus society by creating a character that shows his ideals; Creon.

Sophocles also shows his views on society with Creon’s strength. Creon was a very strong, but hesitant ruler. After Antigone buried Polynices, Creon decided to give Antigone a less harsh punishment. This was a grave mistake. His failure to make proper decisions cost him his family’s life. His failure to properly punish Antigone for breaking the new edict, lead to his undoing. His failure to not put society first led to the worst mistake of his life. Not only does Sophocles suggest the best answer to the issue of individual versus society, but he also explains what will happen if it is not chosen. It was quite a feat to accomplish such goals in such a short play.

Sophocles also showed his point of view through Creon’s power. As the head of state, Creon of course had much power. This amount of power when used correctly was enough to scare citizens. He had them doing what he wanted, saying what he wanted, and even thinking what he wanted. He used this power to threaten Argos and other states. He shows that he doesn’t care about his subjects, he wants to express a bit of territoriality towards other city-states, which in the long run would benefit Thebes. Creon used his power to express his desire for a safe, and successful state, with a fair amount of dignity. It may not seem like it, but his intensions were positive, however shrewd he may have acted.

Sophocles dispenses that in a stable society, society comes first, and the individual comes second, through Creon’s malevolence, brawn, and potential. But what makes up the society? Is it not the individual? Is it not what the individual believes in? Is it not what the individual does in his daily life? Is it not how the individual lives out his life? What is it then? This question has transcended history and the world, and will continue to live on through the ages. Sophocles, however, seemed to have his answer.


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John Dillinger

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