What parallels can we draw from the story of Antigone to modern day society?

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

One discussion that is always sparked with Antigone in my class is the idea of "integrity" and is it right to be true to your family first or to the law?  Interestingly, most students say "be true to your family no matter what" but then, when the idea of a consequence as strong as death is at stake - they often admit that in such circumstances they'd probably be more like Ismene than her sister.

Today it is difficult to draw such a direct parallel (esp. in America) because Creon's decree is outside of our legal scope.  However, on a smaller scale - one current (and likely somewhat common) social reality are things like cheating on taxes or doing other small things to get around legal taxation, or to "beat the system" in other ways (like drawing disability for an injury that may not be as debilitating as descibed in court or fathers who quit working to avoid child support, etc).  I think lots of kids are well aware of parents who are not living with 100% clean legal consciences but would absolutely never turn them in because they are family.  They may even agree that "the law is stupid" so we deserve to cheat it.  I guess I'd say that is an area where principles presented in Antigone could be modernly applied.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would say that one parallel that can be drawn from Sophocles' drama is the idea that justice and the law can be two separate elements.  Antigone helps us understand that there are times when one cannot obediently follow laws that are unjust.  Creon refuses to acknowledge Antigone's birth right to honor her brother.  It is to this level of internal justice to which she aspires, a realm that in her mind supersedes the law.  We have seen instances in human history where this has been true.  Civil disobedience, outward protest against governmental policy, and the idea that there is a level of justice that is able to transcend the laws made by politicians and leaders is one of the most lasting legacies of the play and one parallel that can be seen in modern day society.  Anytime there is an objection to a governmental practice in the name of a higher notion of justice, there is a shade of Sophocles' drama evident.

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