Just Vs. The Right Thing To Do

1605 words - 6 pages

What comes to your mind when you hear the word "justice"? What about the phrase "the right thing to do". At first glance these two might seem very similar in meaning, but it could be that upon further examination there meanings are found to be vastly different. Webster's dictionary defines justice as, "1 Honorable and fair in one's dealings and actions 2 Consistent with what is morally right 3 Properly due or merited 4 Valid within the law, lawful 5 Based on fact sound or reason". Webster defines right as, "1 Conforming with or conformable to justice, law, or morality 2 In accordance with fact, reason, or truth 3 Fitting, proper, or appropriate 4 Most favorable, desirable, or convenient". Looking at these two definitions one still might think that "just" and "right" are almost identical in meaning, but others might have a see them as different. It is commonly believed that what is "just" is often meant to mean the fair thing to do in the eyes of authority, or in the eyes of the majority in charge. On the other hand it is also commonly believed that "the right thing to do" is what is seen as fair through the eyes of the individual. Although these two often are the same to both the majority and the individual, in certain situations they can be completely different. Through many different situations in history and in literature the word "just" and the phrase "the right thing to do" have come to mean almost completely different things. First, in the story of Antigone by Sophocles the word "just" and "the right thing to do" come to mean almost completely different things. Antigone is the sister to two recently deceased brothers who killed themselves fighting for the heir to the title of the King of Thebes. Eteocles, one of Antigone's brothers was buried with complete military honors by the recently appointed King Creon, Antigone's uncle. Polyneices, Antigone's other brother was left to rot on the battlefield were he fell, under the orders of King Creon claiming Polyneices committed treason against Thebes. In this case Creon's opinion is what is just because he is the high authority of the land and therefore has the majority on his side. Antigone, however, feels that because of her religious beliefs, and her personal opinion that the right thing to do is to break Creon's law and go and bury her brother. Antigone knows this will cause trouble, but decides she must do this because it is right to her. Antigone does this and she is punished for it by the authority of the land, even though in her eyes and the eyes of many readers she is doing what is right. Antigone and Creon's views are very different on the matter of the burial of Polyneices. Creon's view is just, because he is the King, no matter how he came to be the King or how long he has been King his views are that of the majority. Although Antigone's views are not any less noble her view of what is right is different than that of the majority and when she acts on her views she is punished...

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