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How Do The Protagonists In The Plays Antigone And A Doll's House Achieve Self Determination In Their Respective Plays? (A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen And Antigone, Jean Anouilh)

1403 words - 6 pages

How does the psychological concept of 'self-determination' help us understand the characterisation of Nora and Antigone in their respective plays?Antigone and Nora, in their respective plays Antigone and A Doll's House, both appear to make great sacrifices in order to escape oppression. It is difficult to understand their behaviour without some understanding of the psychological concept of self-determination. To be independent and live fully as an adult, one must be free to make one's own decisions: this is the meaning of maturity. Both these female protagonists are searching for self-determination. Therefore the application of the notion of self-determination is crucial to interpreting their actions which may otherwise seem bizarre and reckless.Antigone is prepared to die for her belief that her brother deserves a proper burial. Ordinarily, this would seem bizarre, to want to end one's life for the sake of a religious ritual on a sibling's corpse. In fact, it is rational. Antigone desires independence and freedom from external control. She, having always had someone directing and controlling her movements, has not enjoyed these privileges thus far: "Little Antigone gets a notion in her head - the nasty brat, the wilful, wicked girl; and they put her in a corner all day" . Til this point, Antigone has been a child and has been treated as such. Antigone now wishes to progress into maturity, but Creon still makes efforts to control her actions: "CREON: ...Now listen to me. You will go straight to your room. When you get there, you will go to bed" . She achieves independence because she does what she believes to be right, regardless of the consequences.When Creon is unable to control Antigone through sheer willpower, he tries to exert his power through manipulation of his knowledge of all the facts surrounding Polynices' death. By appealing to his own superior knowledge he hopes to coerce Antigone into abandoning her course of action: "CREON: ...do you know what you are dying for? Do you know the sordid story to which you are going to sign your name in blood...?" . As king, Creon dictates the law and must enforce it. By attempting to bury Polynices, Antigone rebels against this authority, openly defying his edict. Eventually, though, the only power Creon has is a threat to her life. Any power Creon does have is annulled once Antigone decides she is prepared to die for her ideals: "CREON:...I want to save you, Antigone.ANTIGONE: You are the king, and you are all-powerful. But that you cannot do...neither save me nor stop me."Antigone faces many sacrifices that must be made to obtain freedom. The first is her fear of death. Chorus says, "Antigone is young. She would much rather live than die. But there is no help for it" . Antigone knows that her fidelity to her dead brother will result in her own death. It may seem eccentric to be prepared to die just because her brother will not be buried, but it is not this which compels her. Instead, it is...

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