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The Rule Of Man And Divine Rule In Antigone By Sophocles

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In many literary works throughout the ages it is not uncommon to find characters that are representative of their time and place. Sophocles, in his play Antigone tries to portray just that in his characters Ismene and Antigone. However, the characters portray these ancient values in starkly different ways. While Antigone believes in divine rule above all, her sister subscribes to the rule of men – particularly Creon her king. Through the use of the characters Ismene and Antigone as foils, Sophocles conveys the conflict that emerges between the rule of man and divine rule. Both characters convey this conflict through completing their designated roles as women, their obedience and familial duty. In ancient Greece there were roles assigned to…show more content…
The duality between them and their actions mimics the conflict between divine rule and man’s rule. Antigone, representing divine rule sacrifices herself and in turn is met with honour in death. Contrary to this, her sister Ismene, while she survives the play, must live her life henceforth without her family. Through this Sophocles is conveying to the audience that it is divine rule that must be followed as it has a much greater effect than that of man’s law. While Ismene survives, Antigone is exonerated for her actions and dies in honour and not alone as her sister will. Both Antigone and Ismene also display their obedience throughout the lay through their actions to obey either the gods or man. Through the use of Antigone’s and Ismene’s opposing loyalties Sophocles is thus able to present the question: is it more important to be loyal to the state or to the…show more content…
Through their actions throughout the play Ismene and Antigone are loyal to their family yet in very different ways. Throughout the play Antigone is portrayed as a heroine for responding to her duty to bury Polynices. If she did not bury him his legacy would be tarnished. However, on the opposing side by not obeying Creon her uncle people may begin to question his authority if his own niece does not obey him. In the end Antigone chooses to obey the gods and “loving and loved [she] will lie by [Polynices’s] side,” (Sophocles 3). By burying her brother she not only obeys divine law but her familial duty to her brother. Antigone’s desire to obey the gods shows that she understands the importance of divine law. Ismene, however, fulfills her familial duty to Creon and the state instead. By standing with Creon as a united front against the populace she is ensuring her family remains in power and tells Antigone that to disobey Creon “’tis wrong to attempt at all.” In this instance she chooses to obey the state over the gods and as well her duty to her uncle over her brother. Through this she is trapped in her fate and must obey Creon unlike her sister who is free to do as she pleases and serve the
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