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What similarities exist between Thoreau's attitude toward govenrment and Antigone's, as...

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lpianucci6067 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:11 AM via web

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What similarities exist between Thoreau's attitude toward govenrment and Antigone's, as seen in the play Antigone? Support with lines from both texts.

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

Posted January 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that there can be much in way of similarity between both text's assertion of the role of individual towards government.  Antigone's fundamental premise is that she cannot abide by an unjust law.  It goes against her heart and spirit.  Thoreau argues the same idea.  His contention is that individuals must listen to their own heart and sense of individual right and wrong in making their decisions.  Blind complicity is not an appropriate response:  "Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”  In this idea, Thoreau argues that individuals must speak their mind no matter the consequence.  Antigone embodies this ideal.  She tells whoever will listen that she is ready to go to jail and face any punishment for her beliefs.  At the same time, Thoreau's response to Emerson about why he is not with Thoreau in jail is similar to Antigone's questioning of Ismene when she does not embrace Antigone's ideas.  In this, one can see how there is a strong connective thread between Thoreau's preaching of individualism to an extent of suffering the consequences and in Antigone's willingness to disobey what she sees as Creon's unjust laws so long as hewr own higher sense of justice is understood and validated.   Both thinkers actions and theories mirror one another in the idea that individual voice cannot be silenced by governmental or social authority.

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