Antigone’s Purpose

Antigone’s Purpose

Brooks Fridey Antigone’s Purpose In the story of Antigone, originally written by Sophocles, explains the story, of a woman who stands up for her own beliefs against the king. At the time of Sophocles, women had little power and authority. They were expected to listen to their husband, king, or any man that speaks to or asks a woman of something. The story starts up where the story of Oedipus ends, in his death. Trouble and war are about to begin in Thebes, so Antigone travels there to try and stop what may become of her family and country.

From my observations, this story can be analyzed in multiple ways, whether it is about the struggles of women, defying the higher power, or responding to the will of the gods. It is said that the royal family of Thebes is cursed to endure suffering, pain, death and loss. Antigone is aware of her family’s fate, but is ready to change her possible destiny for herself and her family. In Thebes, the members of the royal family are either killing themselves or are being murdered. Antigone is torn by this and decides she must go to Thebes to fix this.

She got word that her brothers, Polyneices and Eteocles, were going to fight each other until one was dead. She tried to be there before any fight happened, but was too late, and found out from her sister, that bother brothers were killed during the fight. The king ordered that Eteocles deserved a proper burial, but Polyneices was to not be touched and would not get a burial underground. Antigone asked her sister, Ismene, to help her bury their brother properly, but she refused. It was ordered that anyone who touches the body will be arrested and shall be punished by death.

Ismene told Antigone that she cannot bring herself to do it. She feels that her family’s consistently terrible luck and the fact that she’s a woman are quite inhibiting. Antigone was ready to stand up for the women who would not defy men’s authority. She was fine with doing what she needed to herself. Ismene, who is trapped under the influence and power of man, tries to beg Antigone she will be making a mistake and will suffer great consequences. Stating, “It is a losing battle, fighting Man” (Sophocles). It is obvious throughout the story, that nothing will prevent or slow Antigone from what she is going to do.

Not man, nor power, or laws is enough to change her mind. Creon’s reasoning as to why Eteocles gets a burial service and Polyneices is to be left out for the birds, is to him, justified that Eteocles died honorably defending the city, while Polyneices was just a dishonorable exile. This was no real justification to Antigone, and she was going to take matters into her own hands, defying the king. It was soon discovered that Polyneices’ body had been ritually prepared for a burial, so the messenger relayed the news to the king. He ordered that the messenger find who is responsible for this or he will die if he fails.

As what seemed, intended the sentry soon found Antigone trying to bury her brother. She was arrested, and taken to Creon. Antigone does not deny her crime, she tells Creon her actions were for justice and obedience to the gods. With all of Antigone’s stubbornness, she continues to still disrespect the king even after she has been caught. She will not give in to the king, disagreeing with any justification he promotes. Creon attempts to shame her for her actions, but this has no real effect on her due to a large amount of pride dignity she has left for herself.

Creon feels it is particularly important not to be beaten by a person of the female persuasion. The battle of opposite effect continues with Antigone and Ismene, as she is brought into question as well from a hunch the king has that Ismene is also involved in this crime. She immediately pleads guilty to the accusations, saying she aided in the burial of Polyneices. Antigone is enraged that she would plead guilty to something she had not done, but Ismene confronts the fact she will not be able to go on without Antigone alive.

It is expressed throughout the story, the importance of obeying the gods. To Antigone, it is not necessary that someone should obey their leader at all times. She believes what Creon declared to happen to her brothers was unfair and that the gods were telling her she needed to bury her brother. Antigone was unapproved to the treatment of women in these times, and that the king must be obeyed in all causes. She believed the gods were the true powers, and bad things would come upon you if you did not cooperate with their requests.

When Haemon comes into the story, acknowledged as Antigone’s fiancee, who is the son of Creon, makes it clear why Antigone was even still alive. Although Creon was cruel and often harsh, there was still something or someone holding him back from simply killing her. Haemon told his father it would be wrong to kill Antigone and would bring great mourning to the people of Thebes following her death. He wants Creon to be open to others views, but Creon responds by calling Haemon a woman’s slave for backing up a woman and not his own father.

A blind prophet advises Creon that he should properly bury Polyneices and release Antigone. He says if he does not he will greatly anger the gods, and might create his own misfortune for his disobedience. Possibly leading to his own death. As Creon ponders his possibilities and future, he finally decides to release Antigone and bury Polyneices. As he thought he was then making the right decision, he would soon find out what his choice will cause. Antigone knew she didn’t want to keep living in this world of mistreatment and cruelty, and was willing to end her life.

Creon did not think she would actually go through anything like suicide, but upon her release, she quickly hung herself and gave herself to the gods. Haemon found out what happened, and enraged, attacked his father, and missed leading to Haemon striking himself with the sword and killing himself. As if the story for Creon could be any more devastating, instantly regretting his choice, is told by a messenger that his wife enrages by Creon’s actions, as well, and killed herself. Creon is left with nothing and no one close to him in his life, and wonders what to do now.

This is a story that depicts the power of anyone, especially women. With enough determination and manipulation, anything is possible. Antigone was dealt with an accumulation of anger towards her genders rights, the abuse of power, and being righteous enough to still follow her gods. She is seen as one of the first feminists in this time, and although may have gone to an extreme to defend her honor, clearly made a point to Creon, leaving him with nothing, what neglect of someone’s abilities are and abusing one’s power can do.