In Sophocles’ play, Antigone, the main character uses rhetoric to effectively persuade her audiences to sympathize with her. In the play, Antigone’s brother, Polyneices, dies a traitor to the Theban people. The king, Creon, decrees that no one is to bury the traitor despite the necessity of burial for proper passing into the afterlife. Believing that Creon’s decree is unjust, Antigone buries her brother. When she is brought to the king, Antigone uses this speech in defense of her actions. In the speech, she uses allusion, diction, and particular sentence structure to increase the effectiveness of her argument.
A key factor in the power of her speech is Antigone’s consideration for her audiences. The first of these audiences is Creon the king of Thebes. Creon is receiving this argument as an explanation for Antigone’s defiance of his law. Creon’s statement, “And yet you dared defy the law,” evokes this response, in which Antigone says, “Your edict, King, was strong,” (“Antigone” 1035 Line 56-59). This confirms that her argument is directed towards the king. The second audience is the people of Thebes. In the play, the chorus represents the citizens of Thebes. They are almost always present when the king speaks, and this scene is no exception. Anitgone forms her argument to appeal to the thoughts and emotions of the citizens.
Antigone’s two purposes for giving this speech are centered on her two main audiences, Creon and the citizens of Thebes. In reference to Creon, Antigone’s purpose is to convey that even after being caught, she does not fear his power, or her punishment. She desires to show him that she stands by the justness of her actions and the injustice of her conviction. To display this, she refers to her death as unimportant because it is the direct result of what she thinks to be just actions. She says, “This death of mine is of no importance; but if I had left my brother lying in death unburied, I should have suffered,” (“Antigone” 1035 Line 69-71). Antigone adds the second half of the statement to convey that her morality, and not Creon’s law, has power of her emotions, actions, and contentment with her faith. Her second purpose is to gain the sympathy of the citizens of Thebes. She wishes for them to see that Creon, and not she, is the one in fault. She makes references to commonly understood concepts, such as the power of Gods over the power of kings, in order to remind the people of their religious morals when considering the situation.
To support her argument, Antigone appeals to the morals and emotions of her audiences. She begins her speech by justifying her actions with an allusion to God. She appeals to the Thebans’ religious beliefs by stating that Creon’s law does not agree with the ideas represented by the gods, therefore she is not required to follow it. She states, “It was not God’s proclamation. That final Justice is weakness that rules the world below makes no such laws,” (“Antigone” 1035,...