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Please give an analysis of Antigone refering to the central theme within the play.

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kayanna04 | eNoter

Posted May 11, 2013 at 1:03 AM via web

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Please give an analysis of Antigone refering to the central theme within the play.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 11, 2013 at 6:24 AM (Answer #1)

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One possible way of reading this play is to see it as exploring the conflict between tradition and the power wielded by the state. This play places the audience in a very difficult position: if you face a situation, as does Antigone, when the law of the state dictates that you act against your tradition and inner beliefs, what do you do? To Antigone, the answer is easy: she does not hesitate for one moment in her unswerving determination to obey the "unwritten laws" of Zeus and bury her brother, even though she will pay for this disobedience against Creon's laws with her life. Note what she says to him when she justifies her decision to break his edict and fulfill the requirements of tradition:

I didn't say yes. I can say no to anything I say vile, and I don't have to count the cost. But because you said yes, all that you can do, for all your crown and your trappings, and your guards—all that your can do is to have me killed.

Antigone recognises that she, just like any human, has the ability to refuse any state law that she finds "vile" or strongly disagrees with. This is the essential right of any human being. However, the quote goes on to demonstrate that Creon is actually less free and more hampered than she is because he is unable to do what he wants to do. He would like to not execute Antigone, but because he has devoted himself to state power he now finds himself in the unfortunate position of being trapped by the system of rules he has created. His determination to displace the force of tradition with his own rule now means that he is unable to follow his own conscience and inner leading. This play therefore explores the conflict between tradition and belief and the rule of the state, and the way that tyranny is actually most oppressive to the tyrant. Humans like Antigone, as she proves, always have a choice. The tyrant has none, becoming trapped in prisons of his own fashioning.

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