Essay on The Notions of Justice in The Republic and Antigone

Essay on The Notions of Justice in The Republic and Antigone

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Within two classical works of philosophical literature, notions of justice are presented plainly. Plato’s The Republic and Sophocles’ Antigone both address elements of death, tyranny and immorality, morality, and societal roles. These topics are important elements when addressing justice, whether in the societal representation or personal representation.
Antigone uses the concept of death in many ways when unfolding the tragic story of Antigone and her rebellion. The most obvious way is how death is used as a form of capital punishment and justice against state-dubbed criminals and wrongdoers. The play first exhibits this notion when Antigone states, “No passing humor, for the edict says who’er transgresses shall be stoned to death” (Sophocles, p. 3). The head of the state, Creon, uses death as a form of justice for the man or woman who is to disobey his law. Creon also emphasizes this by threatening a guard when he is notified that his edict has been violated. Creon states, “Go, quibble with thy reason. If thou fail’st to find these malefactors, thou shalt own the wages of ill-gotten gains is death” (Sophocles, p. 8). Death is once again used as a threat and form of justice for people sinning against the state laws. However, death is not only used as a form of state justice, it is also portrayed as a factor in personal justification and completion. The notion that people are not whole or justified until they die is emphasized by Antigone when she states, “A sinless sinner, banned awhile on earth, but by the dead commended; and with them I shall abide for ever” (Sophocles, p. 4). Antigone says that through death, human life is justified and made complete, and that death is essentially the final form of justice for any human l...

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...cause they lie about knowing the true nature of things, and are thus unneeded in a perfect, just society. All three of these points in the ideal society do not correlate with Sophocles’ notions of societal roles and structures in his just society. Sophocles seems to reject roles, especially pertaining to gender, while Plato clearly lays each role out in his just society.
In both Antigone and The Republic, elements of death, tyranny, morality, and societal roles are incorporated into each work’s definition of justice. Both works address the notions of justice in a societal form, and an individual form. However, these definitions of justice differ with some elements, they are closely tied with others.

Works Cited

1. Plato, and Allan David Bloom. The Republic. New York: Basic, 1968. Print.
2. Sophocles, and F. Storr. Antigone. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1912. Print.

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