What are some examples of consequence and choice in Sophocles' Antigone?
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In the play, "Antigone" the rules of the gods played an important role. This is reflected in the themes present in the play: choices and consequences. From the outset, Antigone's "choice" to bury Polyneices (her brother) seals her fate (consequence). Her refusal to obey Creon's law to leave her brother's body to be consumed by wild animals is in violation of his command.
The consequence for her action leads to Creon's initial decision to have her put to death. He later changes her fate and agree's to let her live. Unfortunately, his decision arrives too late for Antigone. She is a martyr in the play, and suffer's a tragic flaw. This flaw is "pride". This "pride" leads to her own downfall. Antigone sacrifices her own life for personal freedom. She decides to commit suicide rather than allow Creon to decide her fate.
In Sophocles' Antigone, the various characters in the play have to deal with the consequences of their choices.
Early in the play, Antigone and her sister Ismene discuss whether they should violate Creon's decree that anyone who performs burial rites for Polyneices should be put to death. Ismene chooses to follow the decree set forth by a human king, whereas Antigone chooses to follow laws she believes have been established by the gods themselves (i.e., that everyone deserves a proper burial).
My honours for the dead
must last much longer than for those up here.
(Ian Johnston translation)
The consequences of the two sisters choices result in the death of one (Antigone), while the other (Ismene) survives, but in some respects Ismene ends up like Creon. At the end of the play, Ismene remains alive, but death has covered over all her loved ones: Antigone, Eteocles, Polyneices, Oedipus, and Jocasta.
The pair of sisters is matched by the pair of father and son (Creon and Haemon) and the choices that they make. Creon chooses not to alter his death sentence for Antigone until it is too late. Haemon chooses to oppose his father in arguing against Antigone's sentence. Haemon's anger at his father ultimately leads him to try to kill him; but, when Haemon fails in this effort, he turns the blade upon himself.
Creon ultimately makes the right choice (to reverse his sentence against Antigone), but he makes this choice too late and suffers the consequences: Antigone hangs herself and both Haemon and his mother kill themselves. Thus, at the play's conclusion, Creon's choices have left him in utter ruin:
Then take this foolish man away from here.
I killed you, my son, without intending to,
and you, as well, my wife. How useless I am now.
(Ian Johnston translation)
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