Why Mandela Chose Antigone as a Play in Jail Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 2 January 2017

Why Mandela Chose Antigone as a Play in Jail

Enacting a play can represent powerful ideas. First, is important to highlight the fact that Nelson Mandela´s time in prison where due to his constant attempts to bring justice to South Africa. Mandela, just as Antigone, was victim of an injustice government committed to demonstrate their power. Naturally, just as Nelson, Antigone demonstrated to be brave. In context, she was one of the four children of Oedypus, which committed patricide and incest, and when everything was discovered, she exiled him because of the dishonor. That action demonstrated how much she respected the laws and honor in her life. After this event happened, Creon, his uncle, took the power as king and planned a cue d’état in which both Antigone´s brothers died in battle. On the one hand, because Eteocles was fighting for Creon, he was given an honorable funeral.

On the other hand, Polynices, who fought against Creon and Eteocles, was destined to rot his body and exposed to public shame. According to what was just mentioned, it becomes easier to realize the equalities in which Antigone such as Mandela lived. Creon, in his visceral way, thought that everything he decided was correct; therefore, he chose to ignore the visions of the Oracle. Meanwhile, Antigone decided that god´s laws where more powerful than any man´s law and she planned to bury her brother. Still Ismene, her sister, abandoned her by the fear of the punishment that this action leads to. The reaction of Ismene, can be interpreted because of the historical context in which women were regarded as inferior.

Even though Antigone wasn´t supported she decided to do the correct thing by giving a symbolic bury to his brother; just as Mandela did when he traveled around Africa to collect funding for his movement. In both cases, they fought for their ideals even though they knew what the punishment was. It is also important to mention, that also in both cases the population supported them but they were too scared to receive the punishment. In conclusion, the comparison let us define that Mandela chose Antigone because both share the unfair punishment of a totalitarian government. The end of both stories changes because Antigone is a victim of the egocentric mistakes of Creon; while Mandela was released of prison at the age of 71 and elected president of South Africa.

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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 2 January 2017

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