The Burial at Thebes Essay

1324 WordsMay 2, 20126 Pages
Saleem Akbar Prof. Ryna May English 207-C101 10 May 2012 Mo[r]tal Law In Heaney’s The Burial at Thebes, the protagonist defies the law of the state to observe what she sees as higher law. In this regard, Antigone’s actions were ethical in nature for she pursued what she felt was morally righteous. When mortal laws conflict with what we feel are moral laws, we should stand up for the values we believe to be true within ourselves. Sophocles’ play builds a contrast between the ideas of duty and obedience. Duty being the idea that one should uphold truth and value; while obedience, the idea that one should do their best to uphold the laws of man. While Antigone’s methods of pursuing truth are unethical in terms of mortal law, her actions…show more content…
Antigone says, “And if these men weren’t so afraid to sound unpatriotic, they would say the same. But you are the king, and because you’re king you won’t be contradicted” (Heaney, 32). She is implying that the king’s people are favoring the laws of man as oppose to the higher law of the gods. We begin to see Antigone as a noble character for pursuing her own moral nature. Antigone can also be seen as borrowing the philosophies of Rand and Nietzsche. Their philosophies both promote the idea of doing what is right for you and the one’s you love regardless of opposing beliefs from society. “That there is no more a despicable coward than the man who deserted the battle for his joy, fearing to assert his right to existence, lacking the courage and the loyalty to life of a bird or flower reaching for the sun” (Rand, 451). Here, Rand suggests that one who stands up for what they believe in is both courageous and loyal to their belief systems. “What is more harmful than any vice? Practical sympathy and pity for all the failures and all the weak... [bad is] all the proceeds from weakness” (Nietzsche, 134). We can relate Nietzsche’s ideas to Antigone’s views as well as those of the people of Thebes. While the people of Thebes eventually side with Antigone, they wouldn’t have done so if Antigone hadn’t followed through with her actions from the start. In this sense, the people of Thebes are seen as weak followers rather than

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