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Antigone Case

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The conflict between public policy and individual conscience exists though out the world and history. People are constantly faced with the decision of whether to adhere to their personal moral views, or to the laws and statutes set forth by the society they live in. This struggle forms the main conflict in Antigone, written by the great playwright, Sophocles. In this Greek tragedy, Antigone fulfills her moral obligation to her deceased brother, while Creon fulfills his responsibility of upholding his state's governing law. Both Creon and Antigone demonstrate logical reasoning behind their arguments, but society's law must be put before one's personal beliefs in order to maintain an orderly state.

In the opening scene of the play, two sisters, Antigone and Ismene, debate whether they should bury their brother, Polynices, who was slain during battle. Creon, the King of Thebes, orders that Polynices not be given a proper burial because he "spilled the blood of his blood and sold his own people into slavery" (Sophocles, line 1308). He also mandates that anyone caught trying to bury the fallen warrior would be executed. Antigone, who shows great loyalty to her family, contemplates the repercussions and decides to give Polynices a proper burial. These actions show that she put her moral duty before the laws of her state. She truly believed that what she was doing was right, and was willing to give up her life. The sentry later describes her fearless and accepting demeanor when he reports to Creon; "She was not afraid... she denied nothing" (Sophocles, line 1304).

Creon, although harsh, is not wrong in his actions. As the King, he is responsible for the safety and order of Thebes and its citizens. After issuing an official order, he must punish those who disobey it. Although some of his actions may be contributed to his strong hubris, the punishment of Antigone was necessary. Precedence must be established, and Antigone's fellow citizens must be aware that disobeying the direct orders of the government will not be tolerated. Antigone dictates her belief that "divine" or moral law over rules the law of man by stating, "I did not believe you proclamation had such power to enable one who will someday die to override God's ordinances, unwritten and secure" (Sophocles, lines 496-499). Views on what divine or moral law is can vary greatly from person to person, religion-to-religion, and culture-to-culture. Because of this, a set law must be established by society that is to be followed by everyone in order to ensure a safe and orderly community for all. An individual or group can choose to reside elsewhere if they disagree with the land's official law strongly enough.

Disagreement between the views of the people and government in regards to a state's law is a very common occurrence. Citizens who take legal actions to influence their state's



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