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Antigone: The Theme of Family Loyalty Essay

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The notion of honor and justice is prevalent throughout all types of literature. In Greek culture, honor is essential for creating a solid foundation within a society and family. Honor will follow you until the day you perish, and beyond. The honor for men in Greece is spiritual in that loved ones show respect to the deceased by giving them a proper burial. Nevertheless, when a man acts upon betrayal of the city, that man looses the privilege to die in such honor. This is evident in the life of Antigone when her two brothers, Polyneices and Eteocles, both die at each other’s hands at war when deciding the ruler of Thebes. Polyneices cannot have a proper burial, because the new king, Antigone’s uncle, Creon created a law that decrees that anyone who tries to give Polyneices a proper burial will have a dire consequence: death. In Sophocles’ Antigone, the quest that Antigone endures to stay true to her pure intentions of honoring Polyneices by giving him a proper burial is in juxtaposition with the fact that her defiance towards Creon is not only to do with Polyneices, but also to show appeasement to the gods.

Antigone’s firm belief that her brother Polyneices should have a proper burial is established by her conviction in that the law of the gods is above all else. This law proclaims that all men be mourned and honored by family and friends through means of a suitable burial. Antigone’s need to put honor upon Polyneices’ soul is so grand that she ignores the advice of everyone around her, including her sister Ismene, who tries to pull her away from performing this criminal act because it will disobey the law set by King Creon, and lead to her demise. However, Antigone does not care about the repercussions because even though “[s...


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... For Antigone, “if [she] dared to leave the dead man, [her] mother’s son, dead and unburied, that would have been [the] real pain,” not death (510-512). Her desire to free the spirit of her brother so that it can be at peace explains the true reason of her rebellious nature.

Although Antigone has a bad reputation with Creon, and possibly Ismene, for being insubordinate, she stays true to her values throughout the entire play by following the law of gods, not so that she could appease them, but because she admired its value of honor and respect to loved ones that have passed away. This devotion and determination to give her brother a proper burial shows the true essence of her being: that loyalty to family is in fact hold above all else.

Work Cited

Sophocles. "Antigone." The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Ed. Knox and Mack. New York: Norton, 1995.


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