Antigone’s Characters Choice Between Religious and Civil Obedience
Laws within a religion and government are created to regulate a group of peopler’s actions and judgments. If two laws combat each other, people must choose one to follow. Even if they choose the dignified decision, each choice has consequences. In Sophocles Antigone, characters are tested with choosing between religious and civil obedience when a law outlaws the religious burying of a man, Polyneices, accused of treachery. The sisters of the traitor, Antigone and Ismene, and King Creon, disagree whether following the governmentr’s law or the godr’s law prevails as the ethical option.
Through the contrast of Antigoner’s, Creonr’s, and Ismener’s interpretation of the importance of civil and religious obedience, Sophocles argues that gender roles alter the way a person perceives and follows government and religious laws. By showing Antigoner’s bold personality and her opinions on the civil and religious laws in contrast to societal male-dominated standards, Sophocles reveals a personr’s opinion of civil and religious can be affected by gender roles. Sophocles writes, Nor did I think your edict had such force / that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods, / the great unwritten, unshakable traditions (Sophocles 503- 505). This bold statement implies the dedication Antigone has to religious law because she risks her life by opposing the king.
This reveals that if a person has been affected negatively by unfair gender roles within the law, the mistreatment will determine that they will prefer a civil law. Because Antigone challenges Creonr’s laws and gender roles, readers realize Antigoner’s beliefs support her hatred of Creon and his gender roles. The readers can also infer that she defies Creon because he supports gender stereotypes. This makes Antigone anger and resents Creon. Through Antigoner’s resentment, Sophocles reveals that negative gender roles will cause a person to detest a civil law which the gender roles support. However, if a religious law goes against the corrupt gender roles, a person will favor it. Proving, a personr’s commitment to religious law and their resentment towards a civil law is created due to immoral gender roles.
While contrasting Antigoner’s beliefs to Creonr’s beliefs of the importance of the civil law and his disagreement of the religious law because of his gender, Sophocles argues that status due to gender in a society affects a personr’s opinion of a religious and civil law. Creon exhibits misogyny when he states, Die then, and love the dead if thou must; / No woman shall be the master while I live (Sophocles 523-524). While Antigone believes it is more important to follow a religious law because it is morally correct, Creon believes his civil laws trumps the religious law because they are made by a male king. The power which Creon attains by being king has gone to his head and causes him to have biased opinions. These opinions cause him to obey the civil laws and disobey the religious laws. Sophocles uses this to show that if a male with corrupt opinions has a large influence on the kingdom, he will believe his opinions are superior to everyone, especially women. Like Creon, the status of the male would lead him to selfish reasoning.
Also, this quote reveals that Creonr’s conscience is fogged by his stubbornness causing him to make harsh and unfair decisions. Proving, that due to a personr’s power because of gender, a headstrong personality will emerge and affect the personr’s opinions. Sophocles shows that power within a society because of gender stereotypes, cause a person to support a civil law because it allows them to rule selfishly. When Ismener’s values, which mirrored Creonr’s beliefs, change from obeying the gender standards to obeying her religious duties, Sophocles suggests belief of civil law or a religious law can change when a person reveals new understanding about gender roles. For example, Ismene advises Antigone, Remember we are women, / were not born to contend with men. Then too, / we are underlings, ruled by much stronger hands, / so we must submit in this, and things still worse (Sophocles 74-77).
In the beginning, Ismene follows the patriarchal guidelines of Ancient Greece and is willing to disobey the religious laws. Through this, Sophocles depicts that civil law containing gender roles which go against a religious law, force people to choose between them. In this case, the person accepts the gender roles to prevent punishment for disobeying authority. Later, Ismene states that Antigone should make her troubles hers showing that Antigoner’s values changed, and she wishes to defy the gender roles (Sophocles 609). Ismener’s values are drastically altered because she is now willing to die in order to follow the religious law.
The author writes this line to express that after a person gets a new insight inot the civil law, the new information will change their opinion. Through the shift of Ismener’s belief of the importance of a civil and religious law, a teaching is revealed that because of a new understanding of the corrupt gender roles with a civil law, a person will follow a religious law instead of a governmentr’s law in order to do what is right.
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