moralant confant Conflicting Values in Sophocles' Antigone
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Conflicting Values in Antigone
In the play "Antigone" by Sophocles, Creon and Antigone have distinct and conflicting values. Creon's regard for the laws of the city causes him to abandon all other beliefs. He feels that all should obey the laws set forth by him, even if other beliefs, moral or religious, state otherwise. Antigone, on the other hand, holds the beliefs of the gods in high reverence. She feels that the laws of the gods should be obeyed above all others, especially when in respect to family.
Creon has a very strong opinion about the laws of the city and the laws passed by him. His method of enforcing them is very strict. Creon orders that Polyneices will not be buried because of his dishonor towards Thebes. Furthermore, if anyone is caught burying him they will be killed for disobeying his order. Polonieces is Antigone's brother. He is being punished because he attacked Thebes and betrayed Creon and the people of Thebes. Creon's harsh punishment on those who disobey the law makes many fear him and dare not to go against him.
One example is Ismene's regard for Creon's laws. She tries to talk her sister out of burying her brother because of what could happen to her if Creon found out that she went against him. Ismene says "We must obey them.....I yield to those who have authority"(5). Not only do the people of Thebes obey the laws of the city because of their fear but because it is a shame to dishonor the king. To go against the kings claim and dishonor the law is to die a more shameful death then Antigone's mother and father(59-60).
Antigone does not want to let her brother be left without a proper burial. Her belief is to show respect and love towards her brother she must bury him. Her beliefs in "The sacred laws that Heaven holds in honor" are far more important than those set by the king(Antigone 78). She feels that the king cannot override her belief in the gods.
Antigone feels very strongly about burying her brother against Creon's orders. She refused to back down from her opinion even when confronted by the king and sentenced to death. Antigone reasoning is: "It was not Zeus who published this decree, Nor have the powers who rule among the dead Imposed such laws as this upon mankind; Nor could I think that a decree of yours- A man-could override the laws of Heaven Unwritten and unchanged"(450-455).