Frank Kafka'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 SophoclesAntigone. 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.

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 to Shakespeare 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.

   Dan Ariely provides thought provoking insight about the way we make decisions in his TED talk "Are we in control of our decisions".

    Ariely points out that almost all of our decisions are made for us due to the way they are presented. We often gain illusions from our choices that greatly influence the things we chose.
   First, Ariely shows some examples of visual illusions such as this table or this cube:

    The table on the left seems longer, but is in fact the same length as the one on the right. Similarly, the square on the top looks brown while the one on the bottom looks yellow, but they are in reality both brown. These are visual illusions that show us how easy it is to deceive our eyes. Ariely tells us that our decision making is deceived in a similar way through "cognitive illusions".
    An example of one of these "cognitive illusions" is a study on advertisement customers of the Economist. When presented with the choices of:
Print only: $89.00, Web only: $125.00, or, Print and web: $125.00, the most popular choice was Print and Web, while no one chose web only, and few chose print only. This trend occurred because the customers saw that print only had the same price as print and web together, so they chose to buy print and web because it appeared to be a good deal. Why settle for one when you can get both for not paying more?
    Interestingly, when the web only option was removed, more customers chose print only than print and web together. When the comparison was gone, they chose the cheaper option. I found this point extremely interesting because, I know I have often fallen for tricks like this. Judging something based on what you have to compare it to is in our human nature, but it often hinders us rather than helps.
    Illusions like these show us how our decisions are already made for us because what we really want is not what we consider in our decision making. We consider instead how the options are presented to us and make comparisons to alter our decisions.
    I personally believe this relates to literary tragedy because the tragic characters often fall to cognitive illusions. For example, It has been foretold that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother. This "pre-decided" fate influences all of Oedipus' decisions so that it eventually becomes true.