Similarities Between Antigone And Letter From Birmingham Jail

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In hope of obtaining the Good Life, people often have to deal with balancing the ideas of doing what is best for society and doing what is best for the individual. Both Sophocles’ “Antigone” and Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” support the concept that to obtain the Good Life, a person must act for the benefit of society more than for the benefit of himself or herself. In “Antigone”, through Antigone and Kreon’s actions and the repercussions of their actions, Sophocles argues for the preservation of values of society over self-preservation and putting the beliefs of society over the beliefs of the individual. In the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, King argues against the individual’s tendency for passivity and idleness …show more content…

One could argue that Antigone did not act for the benefit of her society. She ignored Kreon’s proclamation that prohibited anybody from burying Antigone’s brother, Polyneices, challenging his authority, and was more focused on doing what she believed was right, burying her brother and giving him the proper burial rites, and relinquishing herself of any possible guilt for not doing so. However, one can further argue that, even though Antigone’s primary intention was to revere her brother, she did act for the benefit of her society, as she indirectly fought to preserve her society’s value of honoring the dead. Antigone does realize that she has the people’s support for her actions, as she says, “my action pleases all of them, if fear did not lock up their tongues” (Sophocles 40). The latter part of Antigone’s statement suggests that people do not reveal their disapproval of Kreon’s proclamation, due to his authority and power. Haimon also mentions the people’s support …show more content…

One could argue that Kreon initially had good intentions when he created his proclamation, as he most likely was trying to maintain stability of Thebes and establish his authority, especially after Polyneices and his allies’ assault on the city. However, Kreon’s refusal to heed the warnings of Haimon and Teiresias, who told him respectively to not be inflexible in his attitude that he and only he is right (49), and to heal the evil he has caused and yield to the dead (62), will ultimately lead to his tragedy as he plays a role in the deaths of his niece, son and wife. Through Kreon’s tragedy, Sophocles creates a sense of fatality that men cannot overcome the will of the gods, who the people of Thebes believed in. Kreon was stubborn and thought he knew what was best and not only did he bring suffering to himself, but to the city as well as, according to Teiresias, Kreon caused the tainting of the city’s altars and hearths and the gods’ denial of the city’s sacrificial prayers (62). Kreon’s mistake shows that in pursuit of the Good Life, one should not place his or her individual beliefs over the beliefs of the

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