Antigoneis the central character in the famous play Antigonethat was translated by Robert Fagles in MakingLiterature Matter.She is the daughter of the famous Oedipus and Jocasta, sister toIsmene, Eteocles, and Polynices. Antigone displays both heroic andtragic character, as well as royalty to her family. This is welldemonstrated when her brothers died in the battle field and her uncleCreon, who was the king of Thebes, declared that one of her brotherswould be buried in a manner that would befit a noble hero while theother brother would be left unburied and be a prey to scavengers.Antigone was against the ruling, and she decided to take up herfamily responsibilities and rebelled against Creon`s judgment.Following the simple humanity, divine law and customs that governedthe Greeks, Antigone had left with decisions to make, whether to obeythe temporary rules of Creon or to fulfill the duty that she owed tothe brother that she loved by burying him.
Antigonewas undoubtedly robust and defiant that despite knowing that herfate would be death, she chose to bestow her brother a respectableburial. Notwithstanding the fact that Creon had placed guards to stopthe burial of Polynices, Antigone was firm enough to reply to Creon`swrathful accusations of betrayal with an equal ferociousness. As aresult, Antigone emerged as a hero who had a clear understanding thatthe king`s law was inferior to the divine law, and if sacrifices wereto be made to ensure her brother was buried, then she had no optionbut offer the sacrifice. In the largest sense of the word, Antigonewas always aware of the glory of her deeds, and she would die forlove. Her concurrent awareness of her young nature, love for herfamily and loss of sophisticated love crowns her as a hero andhumanize her personality making her a profoundly tragic figure.
Antigoneis rebellious she is the only character who appears to rise againstthe rule of law. She tries to convince her sister to help her burytheir brother against the wish of Creon, the king, but on thecontrary, her sister Ismene is on the Creon`s idea, she fears to beagainst the law. Antigone does not seem to fear the penalty that shewill be entitled to after burying her brother against the law. Shereplies to all the accusations from the king without fear despitehaving guards in her position. She defies the Creon`s command andbelieves that burial rituals are rules from gods, and they should befollowed at whatever cost. At some point, she even seems eager to diefor her rebellious action of burying her brother as she states that`I will suffer nothing as great as death without glory` (Fagles112-113). Nevertheless, her rebellious nature and the fact that shewas extremely proud of her act of individual conscience attractedsuch a worst punishment from the state as presented by Creon that ledto her death.
Antigonebravery and courage is well demonstrated in the play. The fact thatshe refused to listen to the king not to bury her brother she stillwent ahead, she was not deterred even if she was aware of what wouldbefall her. She courageously went ahead and buried her brother, andshe was ready to pay for her actions even at the point of death.Antigone demonstrates her bravery when she apparently chose to honorthe will of gods, family, and heritages as she quotes ‘I did notsay yes. I can say no to anything I say vile, and I do not have tocount the cost. But because you said yes, all that you can do, foryour entire crown and your trappings, and your guards—all that yourcan do is to have me killed."(Fagles 117-120). Additionallylooking at all the other characters it is evident that Antigone wascourageous since no one else dared to bury Polynice. Her sisterIsmene was especially a coward she begged her sister not to actagainst the king`s order, but Antigone was brave enough and whatpeople said did not shake her, and her unwavering perspective did notcount to any outside opinions.
Antigoneis loyal she is devoted fully to her family to an extent of death.She sacrifices her life for the sake of her family, and herunwavering strong determination lives a symbolic mark of loyalty toher family and blood ties. It is evident that they are havingconflicts with her uncle Creon, but she asks in one of the lines whodo we owe more loyalty to? The government or the families? (Fagles79-80). Again Antigone demonstrated her loyalty to the gods, and sheheld their divine law with utmost respect. She chose to go againstthe rule of the law to fulfill the will of the gods despite thefierce opposition that she encountered.
Antigoneis such a hero she seems to grapple with her fate not just as achild of the famous Oedipus but also as a dutiful daughter. Herunwavering decisiveness and firmness are the contrast with her sisterwho appears to be timid. She champions the rule of gods, and thisgives her an ultimate moral ground that she is not resistant todoubt. Moments passes and represents the minor human weaknesses thatmake the life of Antigone more dramatic.
Fagles,Robert. "trans. The Three Theban Plays: Antigone, Oedipus theKing, Oedipus at Colonus." (1982).