Status is a common term in every society with structure since some members set the pace while the rest follow. Pride is therefore a familiar scenario as members of a certain social status seek recognition and respect from the rest of the population. Pride is a prevailing theme in the Antigone and tempest plays that feature characters who demonstrated pride in different degrees. Both plays feature historical societies where power wrangles defined every society. They also feature members of high social status and close to power. Antigone emerged at a time of national tension when the king needed to make a bold statement to protect his people (Bloom, 4). It also emerged at a time when women were second to men and had no say in society. The tempest was the last play written by Shakespeare during the colonial period, when the men on the ship were heading to new colony. The colonists were full of hope to find great fortune in the new land before encountering challenges in the storm.
Humans exist in a structured society with rules and regulations set by the people as well as natural laws set by their humanity. Pride is the reason for the downfall of many leaders in history, since it distracts from their main duty of protecting the people’s interests. However, pride may not necessarily lead to one’s destruction, but may motivate their desire to do right. It inspires a strict observance to moral standards hence creating a moral society where people observe laws. Is pride a vice or a virtue? This question guides the analysis of Antigone and Tempest plays and also highlights instances where pride manifests.
Antigone tells a tragic story of the collision of two characters driven by pride and hubris to a point where the line between right and wrong blurs. It also brings out the collision of gods’ laws and those designed by man (Sophocole, Mazon & Loraux 56). Creone the king portrays so much pride when he overrules the gods’ laws by enforcing laws that disregard humanity. In an attempt to show his might, he utters a prohibitory message in front of his subjects that no one should bury or say a prayer for his dead brother Polynices.
The brother had betrayed his people into slavery and did not care about their fate. Creone therefore decided that the people should also not care about him especially now that he was dead. This was to send a message to anyone contemplating betrayal to reconsider changing his or her plans. Having passed the stern warning in the presence of the people, the king was keen to exercise the law by punishing perpetrators. Disobedience of the law therefore appeared as a direct disrespect to the king and the actions were punishable by mass stoning.
Antigone, the king’s sister, could not sit back and watch as her brother’s body rotted out in the open like that of a wild animal (Freeland 11). She decided to dig a hole for the body despite the harsh warning by the king not to touch Polynices’ body. Her pride inspires her initiative since she decides to bury her brother without second thoughts despite knowing the punishment that awaited her. It did not matter who had issued the stern warning since she had made the decision to dig a hole and bury the brother.
This created a scenario where the king had to face the sister and declare punishment for her actions. The interesting thing to consider is her intentions for burying the body as forbidden. Antigone does not hide or escape after burying the body, but instead tries to get herself captured for defying the king. She returns to the grave to pay her respects and when confronted she does not deny any allegation. Her pride does not allow her to plead for her freedom since her intention is showing disrespect for the law.
Passion drives Antigone’s actions to an extent that it deters her from thinking critically about her actions and their consequences. The king recognizes the fire in her heart as her attempt to uphold the gods’ laws, which had taken a backseat to her exercise of her self-righteousness. She ignores the possibility of others’ opinion being right since the law meant to protect the community from betrayal. Eventually, the intention of her actions fades as the attention shifts to her taking pride in defying the king’s law (Bloom, 21).
She intends to prove that she is the author of her destiny and she decides on her actions. Ismene discourages the sister from going ahead with her actions, as they would attract serious repercussions. Antigone would not hear any of it and she threatens to hate Ismene since her attitude did not reflect that of a nobly bred daughter. Her pride manifests in her longing for a noble death where she would die for fighting the injustice shown to her brother.
The faceoff between Antigone and her brother, the king, demonstrate the high level of pride in both characters. Pride deters Creone from reevaluating his decisions regarding the fate of his own family and showing no mercy. Pride leads to the downfall of this king downfall since it leaves him miserable after the death of his sister. If only he had gotten of his high horse and shown some compassion or listened to people’s opinions regarding his harsh laws, his destiny would take a different path.
Creone thinks he can make laws that are above divine law, which was a demonstration of pride. Upon realizing his mistakes, he refuses to admit and repent, and instead attempts to bend Tiresias’ message (Bloom, 25). Antigone on the hand acts so much on her pride and self-righteous nature that she forgets about her course and its consequences. Instead of dying the noble death that she longed for, she takes her own life hence dying a disgraceful death.
(Owoye 11) explores the nature of the conflict between Antigone and Creone, a sister and a brother. This conflict spells doom for both of them due to their high level of pride that clouds their judgment and motivates their actions. The author moves away from the analysis of the conflict as that of a state against an individual where the individual stands no chance of winning. The author interprets the conflict as that motivated by gender pride by suggesting that Creone did not see Antigone as a sister or person, but as a woman.
He refused to consider her explanation for her defiance simply because she was a woman. He could not allow any form of disrespect from a woman and would probably listen to someone else’s explanation if he were a man. His gender motivates his pride in this case, as he perceives himself as emerging from a superior gender that does not take advice from women.
The tempest by William Shakespeare demonstrates themes opposite to those of Antigone since it features a positive outlook to life. It attracts us to view the light instead of focusing on the darkness despite our reservations. However, pride plays an important part in the play but serves a noble course, that of instilling moral standards among the people. Tempest brings out the concept of morality demonstrated by Miranda’s orientation as a daughter who respects her father’s opinion (Krueger15). Prospero demonstrates the development of a conscience that convinces him to accept his daughter’s choices.
Tempest shows the interaction between morality and the conscience of an individual. It also features the conscience development in a person involving the id, the ego, and the superego. Prospero initially intends to control the course of events and assures himself of the appropriateness of his actions. His ego creates a desire for him to control the people he socializes with and people in his daughter’s life. He has a certain image and standards that he wishes to uphold when choosing whom to engage. This indicates pride in his sense of judgment, as he believes he is making the right decisions. A conscience then develops and proves stronger than reason and instinct.
Miranda on the other hand demonstrates absence of ego due to her unfamiliarity with the society and its structure. She lacks the basic knowledge of the society in which she emerges since Ferdinand is the third man she has seen so far (Krueger 23). Her superego is also lacking since she lacks the instincts that inspire the desire to restrict people in her life.
The superego instills restrictive instincts that make one choosy and create the desire to control certain elements in one’s life to his or her favor. It also raises awareness to society’s standards and reservations through which one should control his actions. It therefore attracts disapproval from society based on what is right or wrong.
Prospero makes deliberate efforts to coach his daughter’s superego through requiring her observance of moral standards. Instilling high moral standards is the main reason for his interference in her life. Pride is therefore an important element in this society as it acts as check for their morality.
In conclusion, both plays feature the theme of pride extensively but in different perspectives. Antigone portrays pride as a vice that leads to the destruction of a family by turning siblings against each other (Freeland 51). It deters the characters from reconsidering their actions and admitting their shortcomings.
Tempest on the other hand portrays pride in a different perspective since it appears as an important part of social relationships. Pride is part of humanity and dictates the moral standards of society through the id, ego, and superego development. From the analysis, pride can play a positive role as well as a negative role depending on the context.
Owoye, Omolara Kikelomo. 2012. Gender Pride As Tragic Flaw In Sophocles’ Antigone. Journal of Research in Gender Studies. Vol 2(1).
Sophocole, Mazon Paul, Loraux Nicole. Antigone. Paris: Les Belles Letters. 1997. Print.
This book highlights the themes featured in Antigone by discussing the play in details. It details the events of the play, further illustrates, and analyses its meaning. This book is essential to our research since it gives a deeper insight on thematic issues of the play including pride.
Bloom, Harold. Sophocoles’ Oedipus Plays: Oedipus The King, Oedipus At Colonus, & Antigone. New York: Chelsea House. 2000. Print.
This book analyses the main message put across by Sophocoles by highlighting the main events of the play. It offers contextual knowledge of the events happening during this time in history and the position of Sophocoles at the time. This book is helpful since it offers contextual insight by recording the historical events during the time.
Freeland, Charles. Antigone, In Her Unbearable Splendor: New Essays On Jacques Lacan’s The Ethics Of Psychoanalysis. Albany: State University of New York Press. 2013. Press.
Krueger, Susan. The Tempest. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark Publishers. 2010. Print.