Antigone’s Claim and Other Nonsensical Thoughts

by Yvy Truong

Truth be told, I didn’t read all of Antigone’s Claim because I found it quite dry. However, after today’s lecture I think I’ll give it another go (but that means I have to juggle between rereading Antigone for the essay, Antigone’s Claim, and Dr. Faustus). ¬†Perhaps the second time around I’ll be able to get through the text and feel more interested.

 

So for this, I’ll just go on about not the text itself, but what I learned in lecture.

 

I found it interesting how Jill Fellows pointed out how when we focus on one aspect of the play, something else falls into ambiguity. I can kind of understand what she means because I remember in the last two seminars we had last week, when we would discuss a certain aspect of the play, something else would fall apart and when we tried to pick up those pieces, something else didn’t make sense. At one point, I would see Antigone as a strong character but at another, I would find her weak. Some things would make sense, but when the conversation progressed into something else, it contradicted what used to make sense.

 

Am I making sense?

 

So the structure of the play cannot be clearly pin-pointed, and that idea is reiterated when looking at Antigone as a character. Again, as earlier said in the lecture, Antigone does not fit the role of the woman nor does she fit in the role of a man.

 

Now this reminds me of two quotations:

“She is not of the human but speaks its language. Prohibited from action, she nevertheless acts, and her act is hardly a simple assimilation to an existing norm.” (Butler, 82)

 

and

 

“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath out notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast of a god” – Aristotle (taken from Robert Crawford’s lecture slides)

Is Antigone apart of society? If a ship is metaphorical to the polis, what part of the ship is she?

From the two passages that I just quoted, it seems as thought Antigone cannot be defined as human and neither is she a part of society. Could that be perhaps the reason why she had to die? That it was essential for her to die because there was no way for her to be defined? She is an island onto herself but is it by nature or is it because of the circumstances?

I’m also looking back on my blog post from last week and I mentioned how Antigone was interesting because Sophocles shows us the struggle between individual wants and needs versus the polis and society. There is no clear answer to what is more triumphant, society or the individual, because remember, Kreon is the state and he is later subjected to a fate just as confusing and bleak as Antigone’s fate once was (before she killed herself)

And now I’m in a tangled mess of thoughts but I have a few questions….

What is it that defines us as human?

What could Antigone have done? What action could she have taken?

Why did Antigone have to die?

Why doesn’t this play make sense?

Am I making sense?

What is life?

Life?

And with that, I am very tired now.