Human Law Demonstrated Within The Play "Antigone" English Essay

1330 words - 6 pages

“Antigone” is a play written by Sophocles that is centered upon the conflict between Creon, the King of Thebes, and Antigone, the strong willed sister of Polyneices, and how they differ with contradictory beliefs and ideas that are enforced regarding the burial of Polyneices. The system of human law is used throughout the play, where Creon has the right to enforce any law that he believes is just; since he is of higher power of the normal citizen of Thebes. Creon, with this hierarchy, believes that it is his job to maintain laws, even though they may be unjust, in order to keep the town under control. Without these laws, Creon believes that the town would be unable to control and it would be harder for him to maintain his power. It is also known, in Thebes, that going against the King is a shameful deed that has consequences and punishment, so the people of Thebes do not dare go against the King. In order for the town to be under jurisdiction by Creon, the citizens must obey the laws of the King. Creon's regard for the laws of the city causes him to abandon all other beliefs. He feels that all should obey the laws set forth by him, even if other beliefs, moral or religious, state otherwise. In the play Antigone, written by Sophocles, Creon must be obeyed by the citizens he rules over no matter whether or not what he is enforcing is just or unjust because of the significance of human law, the need to have control over Thebes, and the belief that going against the king is a disgraceful act.
The significance of human law, laws of society that are made up by humans for humans, is naturally enforced throughout Thebes since it is their source of hierarchy. For example, human law is expressed when Creon enforces that only the ones who fight for their country should have a proper burial. Polyneices fought against Thebes, even though he was part of their city, and had died in battle; however, he does not get the proper burial because it is forbidden to bury the body of a traitor. When this happened, Antigone argues with Ismene about burying their brother, Polyneices, and whether or not the religious duty of citizens or the civil duty comes first. Ismene says, “I yield to those who have authority.” Ismene is referring to the fact that she submits to Creon’s decree. But, Antigone decides to bury the body of Polyneices against Creon’s decree because she believes in divine law, a law enforced by a higher power of man, like the Gods. She feels that the laws of the gods should be obeyed above all others. She goes to bury Polyneices knowing that she will face the consequence of being stoned, the punishment of burying a traitor, as the cost of her life by disrespecting the king and not obeying the laws that he is enforcing. “Nor could I think a decree of yours / Man- could override the laws of Heaven/Unwritten and unchanging.” Creon believes that human law is superior and he has the most power; also, that the laws he enforces are able to control the citizens....

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