Dealing with the Devil in Antigone, Macbeth, and Things Fall Apart

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The German legend, Das Wagnerbuch, begins with a scholar named Faust who reaches a severe boredom from his frustrations at the limit of knowledge and power he is able to possess. Mephistopheles, a demon, offers Faust magic to achieve pleasures before unattainable for twenty four years and when the time has ended, Faust will lose his soul. Faust agrees and performs unscrupulous acts such as seducing innocent Gretchen and manipulating the entire world. In the end, Faust is corrupt beyond forgiveness and is eternally damned. This popular tale is found in many other artistic works with the same message that obtaining power requires a “deal with the devil” which only results in destroyed lives and ethics. This concept can be discovered through history and literary works including Antigone by Sophocles, Macbeth by William Shakespeare, and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The painful repercussions from immoral decisions enacted by power hungry men, Creon, Macbeth, and Okwonko, reveal the harsh fate that awaits all pursuits of power.

Creon’s once adamant decision to cruelly punish Antigone turns to a realization too late to stop the wheels of tragedy rolling because of his stubborn authoritarian rule. Antigone’s determination to bury her brother is discovered by Creon who banishes her in a tomb. A prophet soon later tells Creon “You plunged a child of light into the dark; entombed the living with the dead; the dead…Do not be surprised that heaven—yes, and hell—have set the Furies loose to lie in wait for you, Ready with the punishments you engineered for others” (Sophocles 239). The reason this terrifying foresight is brought upon Creon is because of his own determination for control. His desire to solidify his sense of justice by m...

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...d lives in the minds of many. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote a famous interpretation of the tale Faust where is saved from Mephistopheles because of Gretchen’s forgiveness and Faust’s own striving that becomes positive in God’s eyes. Even if devastation from the poison of power is inescapable, there is no reason reconstruction is impossible.

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor, 1994. Print.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. New York: Washington Square, NY. Print.

Sophocles, and Paul Roche. The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles. New York: Mentor, 1991. Print.

"Maximilien Robespierre." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2011. Web. 20 Dec. 2011.

Fredriksen, John C. "Adolf Hitler." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2011. Web. 20 Dec. 2011.

"Soviet coup." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2011. Web. 20 Dec. 2011.

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