's "Before the Law
" is a parable that explains the effects that law and decisions have on our lives. Law is represented as something unattainable The man has to pass through many gates to get to it, each one guarded by a more terrifying guard. The man tries his entire life just trying to get past the first gate, but in the end he fails. The reason for this is his decision never to venture past the guard. When he is dying, the guard tells him that the gate was made specifically for him and that he is the only one who could have ever entered it. What this is saying about our lives is that the choices we make will open and shut doors of opportunity in our lives. Sometimes, the decisions we make cause us to miss a great opportunity, as is the case for the man in the story. If he had chosen to go through the gate rather than wait for the guard, he could have been able to experience the glory he saw in the law. However, his decision to stay at the gate cost him that chance.
I believe Kafka uses this parable to make his point because it is something easy for all of us to understand. We have all been presented with open "gates" whether literal or not, and we have all had to choose whether to enter them or not. Decisions make up our lives and shape us into who we become.
Decisions also play a large part in Sophocles
The title character makes a decision that causes her to lose the opportunity of life. When Antigone chooses to defy the law and bury her brother, she gives up her chance to live a long life with her fiancé Haimon. This decision causes tragedy in the play by leading to multiple deaths.
What I took away from this parable, especially by relating it to Antigone
, was that the decisions we make, especially concerning the law, greatly impact our lives. The man in the story chooses to wait to reach the law and never reaches it, while Antigone chooses to break the law and in turn forfeit her future. For us, choosing to obey or break any law, whether set by our society or by our own morality, causes great impact in our lives. We could suffer cruel consequences, or (even more tragically) find that we missed out because we made the wrong choice.
In her article, "The Burial at Thebes"
, Prof. Mary Strange makes an interesting connection between Sophocles' Antigone
and the politics of today.
America has separation of church and state due to the 1st amendment. This idea originated in ancient Greece when democracy started to emerge and people started to see that the laws of man do not always match up with the laws of the divine.
Antigone defies her uncle's decrees and buries her brother, justifying her act by saying:
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"The proclamation you had your force behind it
But it was mortal force, and I, also a mortal,
I chose to disregard it. I abide
By statutes utter and immutable-
Unwritten, original, god-given laws." (29)
If we look at all the major activists of modern times such as, Martin Luther King Jr.
, we can see that they protested laws and claimed a higher calling just like Antigone.
Essentially, what I have taken away from this article is that throughout history, moral law has proved stronger to many people than state law has. When injustice occurs in the laws of our nation, the laws of God are often used as an impetus and justification for those who work against these laws. This can be a good thing, as it was during the Civil Rights movement, but this logic can also be used to justify acts of terrorism.
I'm sure all of us are familiar with the phrase "Pride comes before the fall." Interestingly enough, this common saying may hold some significant weight according to an article from The Speculator
entitled: "On Wall Street, Pride Signals a Fall."
In this article, pride is referred to a hubris
which is defined as: "Presumption, originally toward the gods; pride, excessive self-confidence."
Looking at the world of business, we can see how hubris affects success. When businesses are doing well, their leaders often start to develop hubristic views. The hubris feeling often leads to boasting and a sense of feeling "above the world." This overconfidence and pride is often followed by a drop in business.
To test this, The Speculator writers looked at magazine covers featuring CEO's and company leaders. Data showed that companies appearing on covers like Forbes and Time started doing worse after the issue was published. If we look at this, it seems to make sense. Someone who agrees to be on the cover of a prestigious magazine most likely thinks highly of themselves and their company. They are full of hubris, and that triggers their decline. The article then goes on to show similar results with companies who purchase stadiums and who start to take over other corporations.
This sense of hubris ties in directly with tragedy. If we consider Oedipus
' play, we are shown a clear example of hubris. Oedipus is a powerful king and the savior of his people. He sees himself as a lofty individual, and in his efforts to prove his nobility, he uncovers the secret incest that brings shame upon him. Likewise, his brother-in-law/ uncle Kreon
is also full of hubris in Antigone
. He is very proud and eager to show his power by punishing Antigone for her crimes. In the end, his confident ways lead to the suicides of both his son and wife.
Hubris has left its mark upon once-successful individuals. Its distinct ability to cause destruction is a good indicator to us all that we need to eat our daily helping of humble pie.
There's no surprise in the fact that Antigone
, the sequel to Oedipus the King
, is a tragedy. It's only fitting that the continuation of such a dark, tragic tale be just as full of suffering and sorrow.
First off, we have our hero, Antigone
. She is a brave girl who represents goodness and virtue. Antigone is our tragic hero and therefore must make some sort of error. In her case, Antigone's mistake is based on her love for family. She is willing to break the law in order to bury her disgraced brother, and she if noble enough to own up to the crime, even though it means death. In my opinion, Antigone is a strong heroine figure because of her selflessness and compassion. These noble traits make her downfall all the more sorrowful and tragic.
I suppose just a little bit of back story might be helpful in understanding the tragedy of this story. Essentially, Antigone's twin brothers battled it out to see who would be the new king of Thebes. They both killed each other, but because Polyneices
was the rebellious brother he was not honored with burial but left to be ripped up by the dogs. Also, Antigone's egotistical jerk-of-an-uncle Kreon
decided to enforce the law that if anyone tries to give the body a proper burial, they will be killed.
Antigone caught in the act of burying her disgraced brother
So all that said, what makes Antigone
a tragedy is all the death that takes place because of this in the tragic outcome. First, after she is caught, Antigone is sentenced to die by being sealed in a tomb and left to starve. When Kreon's son Haimon
(who is also Antigone's fiancé) hears of this, he breaks into her tomb to rescue her, only to find she has hung herself. In response he kills himself, and then his mother kills herself out of grief. So in short we have one big suicide party going on down at Thebes. In all seriousness though, I believe this ending is meant to teach the reader specifically about love.
I found this ending rather interesting because it closely relates to one of the most popular tragedies of all time, Romeo and Juliet.
In both stories we have two lovers killing themselves when they can no longer be together. The fact that this theme lasted in tragic tradition all the way from Sophocles
shows that love is a strong catalyst in human suffering. Throughout history, the emotion of love has strongly influenced the lives of men and women. What these two works of tragedy may be trying to teach us is that love is a powerful thing that reaches beyond death and sacrifice.