“Antigone” by Sophocles is a story about family relations, pride, and death, reason, and passion. The play acquires significance in the development of European consciousness since it reveals the conflict between the individual and the State. This is also a conflict of nature and spirit, where it is difficult to achieve the equilibrium of soul and mind, especially if kin relations are concerned. “Antigone” shows the danger of uncontrolled emotions that may lead to unpredictable and disastrous consequences. The impossibility to overcome passion is the main thrust of the story since passion generates grief and leads to a family curse.
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The play presents us with two oppositions that encourage both rationalism and emotion. Thus, Antigona, the main heroine of the play, is the embodiment of calmness and purity who tries to keep the norms of morale and to save her brother from disgrace. Despite her family devotion, she despises her sister Ismene who is afraid to break the civil law and bury their brother. Here, we see that passion overcomes reason. Antigone rejects to obey the laws of the government because of the pride and love for his brother Polynices. She desperately believes in “the immortal unrecorded laws of God, They are not merely now: they were, and shall be, operative forever, beyond man utterly” (Sophocles, 877) When her sister, Ismene refuses to help, she turns her calmness to fury and hatred. She is unwavering in her decision to die the “noble death” of a warrior. She takes a strict position and follows the laws of God only. When she was imprisoned by Creon her death, on the one hand, was a king of protest against the government. On the other hand, she was subjected to her feeling but not mind that she failed to overcome (Sophocles et al, 8).
The main tragedy of the play
The main tragedy of the play is the curse of Creon who fails to calm down his anger. The Chorus of Theban claims that the veto of burial contradicts the laws of God that are more important than the laws of the State. Creon is torn apart by the meditation since he hesitates whether he should leave the body or bury it with all the rites. However, when he finds out that Antigone tried to bury her brother he rages and loses his mind completely: “That girl is guilty of double insolence, breaking the given laws and boasting of it. Who is the man here, she or I, if this crime goes unpunished” (Sophocles, 878). The paradox lies here in the fact that human laws are based on passion and pride and, therefore, contradict the religious laws. Creon condemns the divine principles since they are unable to punish the criminals. Further, we read: “Reason is God’s crowning gift to man and you are right to warn me against losing mine” (Sophocles, 882). This advice was given by Haimon to his father to prevent the death of Antigone and other innocent people. However, blinded with rage Creon breaks his promise. The passion overwhelms and penetrates his mind. The predictions of the prophet come true: Antigona dies together with Haimon.
“The State is the King”
Being the king of Thebes, Creon generates outlooks on human laws and traditions believing that “The State is the King” (Sophocles, 884). He is eager to subject everyone to his principles, including his son Haiman and his wife Eurydice. However, his severe reign turns out against him. He promises to kill Antigone, Haimon’s bellowed, notwithstanding the warning of Gods. Moreover, he regards Antigone as to irrational creature. Instead, he is determined that he is the creator of the rational civil laws that defend the rights of the city.
The other characters of the play are also on the edge of sense and emotion. Being governed by a rigorous kind they were confused with the new laws that do not conform to the natural rules. Nevertheless, the reason is more typical of Chorus presented in the novel. They subconsciously support God’s side and are resented by the reign of Creon who says: “And the City proposes to teach me how to rule?” (Sophocles, 883). The religious ground of the people’s outlook explains the reason is considered as human characteristics. Therefore, the notions of good and evil are centered on divine principles.
The Nature overcomes the Law
The end of the story is manifested by the victory of passion and emotion over sense and reason. Creon is left alone with his son and wife committing suicide. The awareness that passion has killed his family makes him oppressed. He confesses that the power of nature has won over the power of the State. Still, the passion gains his victory in a way since it has germinated all the evils accomplished by people. It is because of passion the brothers killed each other. Passion opened Pandora’s box and triggered the wars between God and humans.
The story ‘The Curse’ by Andre Dubus is considered to be aimed at disclosure the idea of responsibility for one’s honor; the author underlined the line between right and wrong and showed that people could not always differentiate between these two concepts. The central figure of the story is Mitchell, whose dynamic character is symbolically presented throughout various events. The book reflects the rape incident witnessed by the protagonist, who, providing no strong help to the girl, felt completely distraught. Dubus raised the problem of reason versus passion through Mitchell’s experience and sufferings for made decisions.
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It is necessary to underline the fact that the story depicts the most important human values; the author showed how life is difficult in the feeling of despair, regret, and internal breakage. Dubus argued that such experience made any person realize, that some things cannot be changed. “’He did not know what it was like to be very old ? But he assumed it was like this: fatigue beyond relieving by rest, by sleep.” (Dubus, 113)
Life under the pressure of guilt is considered to be difficult and filled with suffering; the author demonstrated the idea of how rape witnessing changed the character’s perception of the world. The tone and emotions are reflected through Mitchell’s struggle with what he had made, with the decision he had come to. The reason for undone actions is interwoven with the character’s passion and sufferings… The author disclosed sad and complicated destiny which was changed by one unexpected action, an action of mind leaving a print in the form of suffering.
All the stories analyzed managed to underline the concepts of reason and passion experienced in human life. The authors demonstrated the idea, that the eternal conflict of heart and mind, both, within a person and society will never end and will cause many crimes.
Dubus, A. Selected Stories. D.R. Godine, 1988.
Sophocles, Fitts, Dudly, Fitzgerald, Robert. The Antiogone of Sophocles: an English version by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. US: Harcourt, Brace and company, 1939.
Sophocles, Gibbons Reginald, Segal Charles Antiogone. UK: Oxford University Press, 2003.