The Tragic Character Of Antigone In Sophocles Play

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

The Greek tragedy play, Antigone, was written by one of the most famous Greek tragedian, Sophocles, in 441 B.C. This play is about a Greek myth of a daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta, who was put to death for burying her brother, Polynices, which went against the king’s state laws. The king was blinded by his pride to see that Antigone did this act against the state in order to do what’s morally right. The play’s main characters are Antigone, Creon, Ismene, and Haemon and it is set in the city of Thebes. The story mainly focuses on Antigone and the consequences she faces after breaking Creon’s orders. Antigone being a woman who constantly gets oppressed with state laws and double standards of society, nothing stops her from doing what’s right and in the end is seen as one of the most admirable women in literature. Antigone is portrayed as being a woman who strives to fulfill the ideals of independence, confidence, and loyalty.

Antigone doesn’t only go against the king in order to obey the gods, but she also goes against the king another time by killing herself instead of allowing Creon choose the way she dies. Through many of her actions, she proves to be an independent woman. Antigone is seen independent mostly because she makes her own decisions and doesn’t allow men to decide what she’s supposed to do.

According to Sussman, he states in his article that Antigone is no different from Martin Luther King Jr. himself. Sussman asserts how Antigone could have lived a comfortable life if she hadn’t singly thought about burying her brother. Being related to a family with the highest status and having the opportunity in becoming the next queen of Thebes by marrying Creon’s Son, Haemon, she could have lived a tranquil life compared to a woman with a lower status. Martin Luther King Jr. had the same decision in living a “serene and financially secured life” but he chose the path of involving himself in civil rights in order to fight back what’s injustice (10).

They are both similar because they were both ahead of their times and had the same mindset of being independent. Sussman reports, “…, in the case of a young woman sentences to execution by stoning, one who resolutely opposed the tyrannical and blustering Creon to his face, and persisted in her course of disobedience in the full knowledge that she had no support and would be losing those things contemporary women held dearest-marriage, children, and family life” (Sussman 11). He emphasizes on how Antigone knew the consequences of her doings but still continued to do what’s right to the gods’.

Therefore, she lost all the privileges of being a woman: having children, getting married, and living a family life. Not only does she lose those things but she dies in the hands of her loving groom, Haemon, who was soon going to be married with her. Sussman also comments on Martin Luther King Jr., “He faced actual and threatened physical harm throughout his career with mystical equanimity. An assassination attempt by stabbing nearly left him dead in 1958; on numerous occasions he was physically attacked, beaten, bombed, threatened, and viciously heckled” (Sussman 11). Martin Luther King Jr. faced many threats and violence because he went against racism and the segregation of African Americans. He believed in equality like how Antigone did by proving that having a voice to go against what’s not right is better than not doing anything letting the bad things happen. They both are seen as independent people because they acted upon their own will even if it meant risking their lives.

Antigone is also seen as an independent person through her relationship with her sister. Ismene is similar quiet similar to Antigone because she also values her family ties and the divine law over the state’s law. But what makes her different from Antigone is how she isn’t brave enough to stand up for her beliefs. In the beginning of the play, she refuses to help Antigone bury Polynices because she knew that going against the states law will put her in horrible punishments. However, eventually she stands up for her sister when Creon arrests Antigone. She surrenders with Antigone and asks to be executed with her sister. Antigone, in the other hand, goes against this claim and scolds her sister for putting herself through this. The reason why Antigone refuses to bring her sister in this situation is because she wants to take the authority for her heroic doings.


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