Judgments and Antigone

Throughout history mankind has always been faced with judgments. According the

Oxford English Dictionary, judgment means "the mental ability to form an
opinion" (AHD, 454). We are forced to make decisions based on our "mental
opinions." Then, one’s actions are based on ‘mental opinions’ which are
judged by other people. Then there is the inevitable justification of these
actions by other people or the person themselves. According the Oxford English

Dictionary, justify means "to demonstrate sufficient legal reason for (an
action taken)" (456). Once those actions are justified, they are considered
morally and legally acceptable and are therefore are left alone. However, many
times in a person’s life, some decisions based on judgments are not
justifiable. That is what causes conflict and separation among people. Often
this disparity in perception on judgment leads to crime and punishment. This is
very apparent in young children. If a younger brother bothers his older sibling,
the older sibling often cannot understand why. So he or she feels that the
younger sibling’s action is not justifiable. Since it cannot logically be
justified, the older brother or sister usually decides to punish the younger
sibling by hitting him or her. This leads to crime and punishment. Now it is
difficult for the parents of those children to justify the reason for argument.

So they punish their children by putting them in ‘timeout’. And this whole
concept is what underlines both Antigone, by Sophocles and The Reader, by

Bernard Schlink. In both stories, judgments arise and decisions are made based
on those judgments. When those judgments cannot be justified, they are sent to
be judged upon by a higher authority. This is all due to a difference in opinion
which leads back to whether those unjustifiable decisions were considered a
crime that deserve punishment. The focus of this paper is to point out some
decisions based on judgments that could not be justified. It is also a
discussion questions the possibility of justification in these judgments. When a
person thinks of Antigone, his or her first thought is usually, "Oh yes, I
know her, she was that tragic hero." This shows that Antigone did something
right, and was falsely accused because one, heroes do not ever do anything
wrong, and two, something tragic or uncalled for happened to her. Basically,

Antigone lived with her sister in their uncle’s royal house in Thebes. Creon
was king there, and his decisions, opinions, and judgments were the law in

Thebes. Laws that even superceded the laws of the gods. Creon’s power shows
when he and Heamon are having a conversation; Heamon was angered by his fathers
thought to kill his fiancйe and reacted by questioning. "Protect your
rights? / When you trample down the honors of the gods?" (Schilb 1328). Heamon
was trying to say that Creon’s right to make judgments could not be defended
when those judgments go against the Gods. Creon reacted by saying "Is that so!
/ Now, by heaven, I promise you, you’ll pay- / taunting, insulting me! Bring
her out,/ that hateful- she’ll die now, here, / in front of his eyes, beside
her groom" (1328-1329). This proves as an example of Creon’s power in

Thebes. Antigone did the worst possible thing in Thebes. She defied the power of
her uncle. After Antigone’s brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, killed each
other in combat, Antigone was saddened. What made her feel worse was that

Polynices was not to be buried and paid respect to because Creon did not like
him. Grief-stricken, Antigone decided that she was going to bury her brother no
matter what the cost. So she went ahead and buried her Polynices. Antigone’s
determination was shown in her conversation with her sister Ismene when Antigone
said: Why not? Our own brothers’ burial! / Hasn’t Creon graced one with all
the rites,/ disgraced the other? Eteocles, they say, / has been given full
military honors, / rightly so- Creon’s laid him in the earth/ and he goes with
glory down among the dead. / But the body of Polynices, who died miserably/ -
why, a city-wide proclamation, rumor has it,/ forbids anyone to bury him, even
mourn him. / He’s to be unwept, unburied, a lovely treasure/ for birds that
scan the field and feast to their heart’s content. (1308) Antigone was able to
justify her judgment that it was all right to bury her brother because he
deserved to be mourned just like Eteocles. There was nothing that could have
stopped Antigone from burying her brother. So she listened to her ‘mental
opinions’ and made a decision to bury Polynices. Creon however, could not