On Violence In Antigone

Satisfactory Essays
Nicholas Cameron Bayly
Dr Myer Taub
DFK 210

Topic 1
In referring to both Hannah Arendt’s ‘On Violence’ and Walter Benjamin’s ‘Critique on Violence’, how does the notion of violence manifest itself in theatrical terms in Sophocles’ Antigone?


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Introduction Page 3

Conclusion Page 7

Bibliography Page 8

In this essay, I will be exploring the notions of violence in Sophocles’ Antigone. In examining these notions, I will be referring to and explaining both Hannah Arendt’s ‘On Violence’ and Walter Benjamin’s ‘Critique on Violence’. By referring to these two political philosophers, key theories and terms relating to violence are discussed and analysed, and the play Antigone is examined in the context of these two essays

‘On violence’ was an essay written by German-American Hannah Arendt (14 October 1906 – 4 December 1975). Arendt was a political philosopher, prolific in the 1960’s, she mainly covered topics revolving around totalitarianism, patriarchy and politics. The essay ‘on violence’ explored views of violence, strength, authority, power and force. Through the essay, she aimed to clarify and distinguish the afore-mentioned points, and create an understanding of them. She aimed to break down the theory in philosophical and academic terms; something she strongly felt was not adequately done at the time. (Arendt, 1972)

Arendt mainly viewed notions of violence in terms of the political realm. Politics is a constant struggle for power; whereby the ultimate type of power is indeed violence. Greek society and the play Antigone are prefect representations of this. The play Antigone deals frequently with the power of rule and la...

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... of whether violence can be considered moral to achieve a just end is difficult to answer. Jurisprudence is called into question, as one tries to justify violent means to an end.

Benjamin follows a Kantian model. He does not condone, defend or encourage Violence, but analyses it. In relation to the law, he views violence as key. Regardelsws of severity, law is always traced to a latent violent principle. Violence is seen as natural and self perpetuating. It is not possible to separate Law from violence.

Hannah Arendts views on violence and Walter Benjamins criticism of these views both find equal footing on Sophecles Antigone. Notions of violence prevalent in Antigone are easily broken down and anzalysed according to Arendts and Benjamins theories. The theories of violence, power, and law according to the different philosopihies are applicable and relevant.
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