Antigone by Sophocles Book Review
“This death of mine is of no importance; but if I had left my brother lying in death unburied, I should have suffered. Now I do not” (Document F). The story of Antigone by Sophocles highlights the ideology of Civil disobedience with the choice of Antigone burying her brother in order for him to ascend to the afterlife. Though she may have broken rules, it was all in good faith and it was to show unjust laws. Her actions of burying him are justified and needed to show Creon and the people the truth and their wrongs.
First of all, Antigone burying her brother is an example of civil disobedience as she went against Creon’s laws to follow her morals and beliefs. Her actions were justified because she was showing responsibility and devotion to her family as well as exercising her own moral rights. Antigone had the right to do this act as it was her right to face divine law. Creon, not allowing the burial of her brother Polynices, stated that According to Document D on lines 555-558, Heimon states, “Died so shameful a death for a generous act: ‘She covered her brother’s body. Is this indecent? She kept him from dogs and vultures. Is this a crime? Death? ––She should have all the honor that we can give her!”’(Document D). Creon having unjust laws for people to not bury their family encouraged Antigone to defy the state. This proves her act to be justified as it shows that she was only doing it for her brother. Antigone wouldn’t have done it for anyone else due to her brother being the only one in her life . Her action shows the unjustness of her death, for she died to prove the flaws in the law.
Antigone uses the idea of civil disobedience through honor and love. She used her rights to show the unjust laws to the people so they can see how Creon is treating them. Acts of civil disobedience should be done in terms of agreement with the people. If the people agree alongside Antigone, the act could have been declared as unjust, and the people could have gone against the king. In the story, the people would have gone with her as they thought her actions were justified had it not been for Creon. This is shown in Document F when it states, “This talking is a great weariness: your words are distasteful to me, and I am sure that mine seem so to you. And yet they should not seem so: I should have praise and honor for what I have done. All these men here would praise me were their lips not frozen shut with fear of you,” (Document F, lines 395-400). This shows that even the people believe that the laws of the king were unjust and they would go against them had he not had all the power. In addition, in Document C, Martin Luthor King jr. states, “An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.” (Document C). He is saying that the people who are powerless have no say only leading to unjust laws until someone breaks them off. Their fear of what might happen kept them silent. Antigone’s actions simply proved to the people the corruption and intolerance of their country. It caused King Creon to change and think about his actions as a king and to become more accepting with the gods.
Finally, Antigone uses her obligation to the gods and to herself to legitimize burying her brother. Her duty to the gods was the main reason she did it. Creon stated that anyone who buried Polynices was going to be killed which was direct opposition to god’s rules. Antigone showing compassion for them decided to do it anyway as she knew she was doing right by Polynices. Antigone was not afraid of anything in the living world because she only spends a limited amount of time there rather than spending eternity in the afterlife. Furthermore, She wants to go with honor to prove to herself that she went with an honorable deed. According to Document F, Antigone states, “Your edict, King, was strong, but all your strength is weakness itself against the immortal unrecorded laws of God. They are not merely now: they were, and shall be, operative for ever, beyond man utterly.”(Document F). This proves that god's laws should be taken higher than the laws of man in order to appeal to them. Although she would be killing herself in the process, her loyalty to the gods meant nothing else as she was showing the world what mattered more.