Antigone: to Bury or Not to Bury, That’s the Dying Question
Antigone: To Bury or Not to Bury, That’s the Dying Question “To live or not to live, that is the question”. In Sophocles‘ Antigone, Antigone buries her brother Polyneices and is told she will die because of it. Did she have a good intention in her actions? After reading this paper a person can see if they think Antigone was wrong in burying him, acting upon instinct, acting nobly, acting motherly towards her brother, or if she really wanted to bury him. In the book entitled Sophocles’ Antigone and Funeral Oratory, Larry J.
Bennett and William Blake Tyrrell show Antigone as a noble sister towards Ismene. First, they state that when Antigone is alone with Ismene outside the city gates they start the plan to bury Polyneices, but Antigone says she would “like to do it alone” because she “will die nobly”. In support to this point, Bennett and Tyrrell explain how Ismene wants to be a partner with Antigone in the burial, but she will not have it that way: “Ismene’s plea fails, Antigone forswears her assistance in this burial”. Second, they point out that “Ismene calls for secrecy”, but Antigone tells her to “shout it out loud”.
To support this point, they state that Antigone not only wants to die, but to die for a noble cause and does not want to be kept from it: “Not because she wants to die but to die nobly, she does not want to suffer so much as to keep her from dying nobly”. Finally, Bennett and Tyrrell say that “she is the last of the royal family” and is left “deserted” in an ally. To illustrate this point, they state that she wanted to be by her self with no one else: “She ends deserted, deserted of kinsman, deserted and alone, her isolation is complete”. Therefore, Larry J.
Bennett and William Blake Tyrrell reveal that Antigone is noble towards Ismene and wants to die nobly. In the article “Antigone’s Inconsistency”, Matt Neuberg wonders if Antigone truly wanted to bury her brother, Polyneices. First, he states that “Antigone does not have a husband or child” of her own and said that it would be “inappropriate to her circumstances for her to raise the hypothesis of having them”. In support to this point, he says that she states that she would never bury a dead husband or son: “She specifically says that she would not bury a dead husband or son”.
Second, Neuberg points out that “Polyneices the lasts of her brothers”. To support this point, he states that the only reason she buried Polyneices was because he was the only brother she had left: “She implies that she would not even have buried Polyneices had he not been her last brother”. Finally, Neuberg states that “neither claim seems believable of the Antigone we have come to know”. To illustrate this point, he says that the Antigone who doesn’t go against Creon’s law wouldn’t be the true Antigone: “An Antigone who did not combat Creon’s edict to bury any relative would not be Antigone”.
Therefore, Matt Neuberg reveals that Antigone buried her brother because he was her last and she wanted to go against Creon. In the article “Dusting Antigone”, Carol Jacobs presents the idea that Antigone was playing a motherly role towards Polyneices. First, he states that as Polyneices’ sister “Antigone feels called upon to complete the shape of Polyneices” and in the “role of mother something quite other takes place”. To support this point, he says that what takes place unknown to Antigone makes her motherly: “What takes place in the utterance of the sentinel is a figure that, unbeknownst to Antigone, makes her into a mother”.
Second, Jacobs states that Antigone is a “Mother of Polyneices” more or less, a “Mother of what remains”. In support to this point, he says that she is a mother of the dead Polyneices, a mother of his dust and ashes: “Mother, if one regards the passage more rigorously, only of what is gone, the dust which she had originally scattered, though everything in the sentinel’s report of the storm suggests that it is there once more, Mother of the dust, Ashes to ashes and”. Finally, Jacobs states that Antigone is the “Mother of the dead”.
To illustrate this point, he says that this way goes against the laws of criticism: “A place in Sophocles’ tragedy that to unearth it in this manner may seem to violate the laws of criticism”. Therefore, Carol Jacobs reveals that Antigone’s action of burying Polyneices makes her into the figure of a mother. In the introduction to the book Antigone, Alberta Edmonton presents the question, was Antigone wrong? First, she states that “Antigone’s devotion to her brother is truly a kind of reverence”.
To support this point, she states that Antigone loved her brothers even though they were on opposite sides: “She, who was born to love both her brothers despite the rift between them, has had the sharpest insight into Kreon’s error of fission”. Second, Edmonton asks “Does she think, as death approaches, that she has been wrong? “. In support to this point, she says that Antigone has a great love for Polyneices, a love that makes her not at fault: “The love that made Antigone bury Polyneices is a moral force. . . Antigone is certainly not at fault”. Finally, she points out that “Kreon questions his choice in disposing of Polyneices before seeing to Antigone”. To illustrate this point, she states that Kreon has turned against his own word and will bury Polyneices: “Kreon has turned the business backwards. He may obey the letter of traditional law, and bury Polyneices”. Therefore, Alberta Edmonton answers her question by revealing that Antigone’s actions in trying to bury her brother were not wrong. In the article “Antigone’s Motives”, Charles S.
Levy presents the question, were Antigone’s motives right? First, he states that he’s “trying to resolve Antigone’s motives”. In support to this point, he says that he thinks that its Antigone’s character: “Again as a consequence one suspects of the compelling vigor of Antigone’s character”. Second, Levy points out that “Antigone’s characteristics” make this interpretation of her “behavior”. To support this point, he says the some of her characteristics make her seem this way: “Antigone’s characteristics make the totality of her behaviors”.
Finally, he states that Antigone was “acting on instinct” and felt that what she was doing was okay. To illustrate this point, he says she didn’t have any reasons for what she did, she just acted upon what she felt: “Antigone has no reasons, she has only an instinct”. Therefore, Charles S. Levy shows that Antigone’s motives in acting upon her instinct were correct. In conclusion, the critics explain Antigone’s actions in burying her brother, Polyneices.
They conclude in their writings that Antigone was acting nobly, truly wanted to bury her brother, was playing the role of a mother, was acting on her instinct, and her actions were not wrong. So, in answering “to bury or not to bury, that’s the dying question” Antigone’s buried her brother out of love and respect for him and it was the right thing to do. Thank you for reading this paper. BIBLIOGRAPHY Bennett, Larry J. and William Blake Tyrrell, “Sophocles’ Antigone and Funeral Oratory”, American Journal of Philology, Vol. , Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 1990. Edmonton, Alberta, Sophocles’ Antigone, New York, Oxford University Press, 1973. Jacobs, Carol, “Dusting Antigone”, MLN, Vol. 111, No. 5, Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 1996. Levy, Charles S. , “Antigone’s Motives: A Suggested Interpretation”, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 94, Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 1963. Neuberg, Matt, “How like a woman: Antigone’s Inconsistency”, The Classical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 1, 1990.