Theme Of Civil Disobedience In Literature

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Civil disobedience is the act of refusal to obey laws set by an authoritative figure such as a king or government. This action occurs when one breaks the law because it is morally justifiable to them. People consciously disobey a law if they find it unjust or to peacefully protest. To break these laws people are willing to take great risks and sacrifice to do what is morally right like the characters do in the pieces of literature Antigone by Sophocles and “If We Must Die” by Claude Mckay. Both of these pieces of literature are about civil disobedience and reveals that civil disobedience requires great sacrifice.
The first time this theme is revealed is in the book Antigone. After learning of her brothers death, Antigone, wants to bury Polyneices,
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While demanding to Ismene to help her she pleaded, “I will bury him if I must die, I say this crime is holy” (Source A). She knows if she goes through with burying her brother she will have consequences but she thinks that it would be morally right to “bury him” even if that means she will “die”. She feels as though the “crime is holy”. Therefore she knows what she is committing a crime but she feels it is what God would want so that makes the crime “holy.” Her sister Ismene argues that she should not “break laws that were made for the common good” (Source A). These laws were created for the “common good”, but Antigone feels like it is unjust so she decides to bury him against Creon's will. After Creon has sentenced Antigone to death, Antigone speaks up for her actions defending, “I knew I must die, even without your decree: I am only mortal. And if I must die now, before it is my time to die, Surely this is no hardship: can anyone living, as I live, with evil all about me, think Death less than a friend?” (Source A) She is admitting she is guilty for disobeying Creon’s wishes. She is “only mortal” which represents she’s only human, so he should not be so hard on her. She feels as though if she “must…show more content…
This writer is encouraging his people to stop standing around and to fight back. The writer starts off by saying, “If we must die, let it not be like hogs… If we must die let us nobly die” (Source B). He feels as though if dies while being a part of this, he does not want it “to be like hogs.” This exhibits he wants his death to mean something, and that he died for something. He wants his death to be “noble”, or have died with honor for doing what he believes is morally correct. While fighting, “though far outnumbered let us show us brave”(Source B). They know they are short in number but they still continue to fight what’s right. They proudly declared, “Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack, pressed to the wall, dying but fighting back”(source b). They refer to the people oppressing them as “the murderous, cowardly pack.” They feel like they are “pressed to a wall”, or stuck in a position that they cannot do much to fight back. The author writes they are “dying but fighting back”. Even though they are dying they know they are making a difference by fighting back against the unjust laws that make them unequal to the white man. They have to commit civil disobedience in order to earn their rights as human being, but they have to sacrifice their safety and possibly their lives to do
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