25 Feb

Antigone suffers from something many people of our generation suffer: reckless entitlement. Being the daughter of the former King and Queen of Thebes made her the royal princess. As the anointed princess, it can be inferred that her life was relatively easy, until her father was deposed.

The feeling of being entitled to having things her way actually runs in the family. Her grandfather and (grand) mother learned that their son Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother(them). In an attempt to determine their own fate, they decided to do away with young Oedipus. As fate would have it Oedipus escaped death and grew up; he too learned of this fate and attempted to change it. We know how it turned out: fate won.

Later, Oedipus becomes a prophet when he predicts his sons’ deaths. Antigone then attempts to alter fate by telling Polynices not to fight Eteocles: fate won. In this: Antigone sees first-hand that changing fate is a non-option. (Along with seeing it second-hand in the case of her father Oedipus’ life, twice, once by his parents and once by himself.) I think, however, Antigone knew she could not change the fate of her brothers dying at each other’s hands, attempting to was important though.

This once-princess now knows she is unable to gain control over her destiny in the way she would like. For someone used to getting things the way she wants, this is a difficult concept to wrap her head around. Herein lies the tragedy: no matter how Antigone tries, she cannot control things that are beyond her. She is opposed to life because of the aspects she cannot control.(1) She is born in and of shame to incestuous parents. (2) Her family looses power. (3) Everyone in her family except her sister and her is dead. This is fate, although they all tried, nobody was able to alter(control) their fate.

Antigone knows she cannot change her fate. What she can do, however, is control her death. Creon sentences her to death, yes, but she kills herself before the sentence was fully executed. Not even Creon, the one who sentenced her to death, could prevent her from dying. (Her power over the state, the state could sentence her to death but it could not force her to live.)

The ultimatum she poses is childish. Nobody cares about the cries of a has-been, hence her cries often fall on deaf ears. Everyone faces the prospect of death. As much as Antigone would like to pretend her situation is truly abject, she is no worse off than anyone else (in fact, probably better). To commit suicide because one feel’s the cards they are dealt aren’t good enough is a pathetic example of self-pity. Suicide is the most selfish thing one can do. Antigone committed suicide because she couldn’t deal with not being in control.


Posted by on February 25, 2011 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “Antigone

  1. andrewpoli275

    February 26, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I loved how you compared Antigone’s ultimatum to the one of Muammar al-Gaddafi. I do think that even though you can compare their ultimatums, you cannot compare the situations in which they were made. Antigone defied an unjust decree from a tyrannical leader while al-Gaddafi is a tyrannical leader attempting to hold power. Al-Gaddafi will do whatever it takes to keep his power even if it means the deaths of thousands of his own people. I am not sympathetic for him because of the terrorist groups he has supported and also for his funding of the bombing of Pan-Am Lockerbie and the bombing of a Berlin disco in 1986. I am sympathetic for Antigone because she was convicted of death for burying her brother.

  2. chan6435

    March 1, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    I think that you have an interesting perspective comparing Antigone and al-Gaddafi, however, I don’t entirely agree with the assesment that suicide is an example of self-pity. What other options to either of them have? In al-Gaddafi’s case he would face a trial whose result could either be imprisioned or killed, any attempt to leave could lead to his eventual capture by outraged citizens as Augusto Pinochet was brought back to Chile. I do not think that he is committing political suicide, I think that he is trying to retain power in the only way available to him.

  3. americansheepdog

    March 1, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    I’m going to offer an alternative idea. Was the suicide on Antigione’s part merely a way to finally beat fate? After all, a woman who has suffered such a tragic chain of events, at fate’s hands, may do anything to defeat it.

    Also, remember that her death was one more of martyrdom, a fate many would believe to be selfless. I certainly agree with your point of suicide being the most selfish thing a person can do, but it also has to be applied to the right context. A soldier who is fears torture will lead to his revealing of information that could harm his brothers in arms may be led to the suicide in an attempt to save others. Many would argue that course of action would be a heroic and brave thing to do. It’s all dependent on the intention. If Antigone’s intention was to end her life out of self pity and to spite Creon, then I would certainly agree that she was a weak, selfish individual. However, it could also be argued that it showed a certain level of courage if she intended her death to lead to a salvation from a tyrannical rule. To me, a lot is dependent on the intentions. Both sides can be taken, and successfully argued. Unfortunately we do not know what Sophocles intended her death to be.


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