Theme Of Duty And Duty In Sophocles's 'Antigone'

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ANTIGONE, by Jean Anouilh, is a masterful version of Sophocles’ original tragedy; which delves deeply into the theme of responsibility and duty. Duty is something one is “obligated to do.” Responsibility is described as doing something one “feels is necessary,” as well as “having capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable” (Webster’s Dictionary). The theme of responsibility and duty transcends the shallow meaning of the words themselves; it illustrates the internal driving force behind nearly every character’s motives and decisions throughout the throughout the play
The absolute essence of the word duty is personified by Jonas and the other guards. The guards represent duty to its fullest extent. Anouilh makes sure to note that
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Creon and his guards strongly symbolize the Nazi régime that was at its absolute height when Anouilh wrote ANTIGONE in 1944 (Smith, 92). The guards’ view of the situation was that they were, “only doing their job.” This same view was also echoed by all of the Nazi soldiers after World War II. Creon establishes the mentality in the guards that their only goal was to complete their duties, the same way Hitler did. As explained by an extensive analysis of the Nuremburg Trials, following a superior’s orders can not be an exemption from the responsibilities of one’s actions, or nobody would have been held liable for the war (Nuremberg, 1947). These same ideas have a distinct and irrefutable connection to the actions of the guards and Creon. These obvious parallels deliver a superiorly deep level of meaning and metaphorical connection to the theme of duty and unfortunately, lack of, responsibility in Anouilh’s World War II time period version of …show more content…
Initially, Antigone’s actions are clearly motivated by a drive to fulfill her moral responsibility. She is responsible for the burial of her brother and responsible to die for his honor. Antigone explains this when she makes the statement, “Even if I were a scullery maid and heard the edict proclaimed while I was in the middle of doing washing up, I’d still have dried my hands, walked out into the street still in my apron, and gone to bury my brother.” She is extraordinarily stubborn and strong willed toward reaching her ultimate goal and fate of death. At this point in the play, she believes dying is going to be the beautiful and glorifying fulfillment of her “responsibility” to honor her brother’s death. She exemplifies the fundamental nature of responsibility. Antigone is blindly hell-bent on achieving her responsibility: “My nails are broken, my fingers are bleeding, my arms are covered with the welts left by the paws of your guards—but I am a queen!” She upholds this ideal until the moment when Creon facilitates the corus in a heartbreaking slaughtering of Antigone’s perception of her brothers. This devastatingly true soliloquy of horror wells up a prolific amount of

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