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Antigone and Governance

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 Pain and fear lives in the heart of a person who is obliged to burn in two fires, law and justice. The choice that can be made between them has its consequences that one suffers for a greater purpose. Antigone has made her choice, and eventually she washed it up with her blood. “Antigone”, a tragedy written by Sophocles, is a vividly dramatic story, highlighted by the problematic issue of governance. The title corresponds to the name of the main heroine, Antigone. The main theme discussed in the play is governance.

The form of presentation of the tragedy “Antigone” is dialogues with the insertions of polylogue conversations among characters. These outer speeches show the problems of the play from the different points of view and help the audience to objectively observe the plot. In the “Antigone” a dynamic description of the events prevails. The tone is tragic and mournful.

It is a well-known fact that chaos and order are the two oppositions life is based on. The dramatic connection of these forces lies in the revelation of the understanding the difference between obeying the law and its transgressing. Thus, the idea of governance finds its particularization in the character of the king Creon. Creon does not want Antigone’s brother Polyneices to be buried, because he is a traitor who has fought against the city. It is said: “It hath been proclaimed to our people that nine shall grace him with sepulture or lament…” (Sophocles, 1). According to the community’s beliefs, death is a punishment for the one who disobeys. Antigone is the only one who acts against these rules. In a conversation with her sister Ismene Antigone says that the king has no right to stop her. Antigone is ready to die doing that what she believes she must do, while her sister stays aside.

The culmination of the play is the moment when Antigone decides that the law of god is greater than the law of king. She performs her personal obligation instead of following the law. Therefore, it can be said that Antigone is a strong character, because she remains true to her feelings: “I will bury him…I shall rest, a loved one with him whoem I have loved, sinless in my crime” (Sophocles, 1). However, it is not only the will of god that she wants to execute, but also the wish of her heart.

On the other hand, the issue of power and its influence on people is raised in the tragedy. The setting of the events proves the Sophocles’ idea that “no man can be fully known, in soul and spirit and mind, until he hath been seen versed in rule and law-giving” (Sophocles, 1). Indeed, power corrupts and blinds Creon. This may be seen in the contrast between the beginning and the ending of his governance.  According to the text, Creon is a new leader, a tabula rasa with no shadow in the name: “Creon, son of Menoeceus, our new ruler…what counsel is he pondering…”(Sophocles, 1). However, the counsel appeared to be bitter, and Creon realizes this after his cruel actions that are taken impulsively: “Woe is me, for the wretched blindness of my counsels!” (Sophocles, 1). Then, under Creon’s domination many people die and the alive cannot find peace. Thus, according to the play, death was the only fair resolution for Creon, as it is the price for arrogance that gods set. Creon’s personal ambitions that he displayed being on the throne have proved to be nothing in comparison to the higher power of gods.

As it can be seen, governance is a well-established plotline. The ruling power is centered on the unfair edicts of Creon. Nevertheless, Antigone has the strength to resist the legal pressure. She follows the order that has been established by the gods and transgresses Creon’s law. She believes that Creon has made a crime by forbidding the proper burial ceremony for her brother, and dies after she has performed the ritual. Obviously, Sophocles declares the message of the tragedy though actions of Antigone.

One of the main ideas of the tragedy is that the law can only be obeyed by people as long as the king is following the order himself. Considerable efforts have been made to keep people from violating the rule, but it does not stop Antigone. In addition, one evil thing breeds another, which is why in the concluding part of the play many people die. Bounds of loyalty towards people that are loved are stronger than the fear of punishment. Sophocles in the tragedy “Antigone” shows that Creon’s ignorant law has doomed his country and people for not respecting the law of heaven.


 

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