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Antigone and The Cid

Antigone is the third one of three Theban plays tragedies written by Sophocles. This tragedy belongs to the Greek literature. On the other hand, The Cid is a tragicomedy written by Pierre Corneille. It is an example of the French literature. Despite the fact that both of these literary pieces belong to different time-periods and depict the absolutely various stories, they have a lot in common. These two characters are connected by one central theme, which can be clearly observed in both literary works. Therefore, both stories demonstrate similarities and parallels in their plot and the development of the story line. As a matter of fact, Antigone as a character from the Greek tragedy can be compared and contrasted to Rodrigue being the main character of the French tragicomedy. It is possible to draw parallels between these two characters especially in terms of the plot development. Therefore, the purpose of the paper is to demonstrate the central theme. It connects characters from the Antigone and The Cid, draws parallels between different characters of both stories. It can be compared and contrasted and could show, which lessons should be learned by comparing both literary pieces.

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Both characters have to face the choice. The Antigone tragedy demonstrates the story, where Oedipus, being Antigone’s father, passes away. It provokes two of his sons to fight for power. In fact, it has been agreed that Polynices together with Eteocles would change each other on the throne annually. However, Eteocles, being the older brother recited to resign; and, therefore, brothers killed each other in a fight. Therefore, Creon became a king and ordered to bury Eteocles “with military honors” giving him “a soldier’s funeral” (Sophocles I. 16). At the same time, Polynices, who “fought as bravely and dies as miserable” (Sophocles I. 18) should not be buried with honor and his body “must lie in the fields, a sweet treasure for carrion birds to find as they search for food” (Sophocles I. 21-22). The story demonstrates that Antigone faces the choice of whether to listen to the King and leave the body of her brother as it is. Otherwise, she could break the rules and conceal her brother on her own. She decided to prove that she is “a true sister” (Sophocles I. 26) and not “a traitor to family” (Sophocles I. 26). She knows that she has to break new rules of a new king, but she will bury her brother even if she has to die. She believes that this “crime is holy” (Sophocles I. 56). On the other hand, the tragicomedy does not demonstrate such strict reality. However, Rodrigue, who is a major male character, is also supposed to face the choice. Chimene and Rodrigue love each other, but they have no possibility to marry. It occurs due to the fact that her father insults the father of Rodrigue. The story demonstrates that Rodrigue is torn between his love and duty to avenge his father’s honor. His father says that Rodrigue has to “prove [himself] against our haughty foe/to wash away this outrage, blood must flow” (Corneille I.5.16). Don Diegue, who is the father of Rodrigue, knows that his son loves Chimene. However, for him to live in infamy is “worse than death” (Corneille I.5.16). Therefore, Rodrigue’s duty is clear, as he has to revenge for himself as well as for his father. The fact that all characters of the story lived in times, which were victimized by a vendetta system, explains why it was highly important for Rodrigue to perform his duty and protect the honor of his family.

It is highly important to compare and contrast the feelings of both characters when they decide to protect the duty of their families. The central theme, which connects both stories, is analogous for the tragedy and tragicomedy. However, the plot is different. Therefore, the feelings of the characters are diverse. Despite the fact that Antigone knows that she breaks the new rule of King Creon, she is not afraid and does not intend to hide her decisions. She is angry at her sister, Ismene, who does not have the strength to break the regulations that “were made for the public good” (Sophocles I. 66). Antigone is not scared to die, due to the fact that she believes that “it will not be the worst of deaths” (Sophocles I. 68). She is ready to die with honor. The main character does not hesitate and easily makes all decisions. On the other hand, Rodrigue has torn apart with inner feelings. He has to select between the love he feels in his heart and his responsibility for the family name. He is “pieced by thrust and counter trust” (Corneille I. 6.18), due to the fact that in his life “one voice commands [him], one would sway [his] heart” (Corneille I .6.18). Therefore, the characters’ bravery and calmness in the face of death or possible death is another similarity and parallel to be found in both stories. Antigone did not deny anything. She has easily and bravely acknowledged that she dared to defy the law. Even despite the fact that Creon attempts to persuade Antigone that she betrayed her other brother, meaning Eteocles, as she honored a traitor, Antigone is convinced of her correctness, as a traitor or not, he is “equal in blood” (Sophocles II. 411). On the other hand, Rodrigue is never afraid to risk his life. When he is supposed to fight with a veteran warrior, who can easily fight Rodrigue down, he stays firm. It allows the count to admire Rodrigue for his spirit. He says that the “noble courage which appears in the language you [Rodrigue] hold has shown itself each day by your eyes” (Corneille II. 1.59). He knows that, on one hand, he might lose his love forever, when he kills the count. On the other hand, he understands that if he does not accept the rules and duel. He will be in infamy together with his father. It provides him with the strength and power to be firm and proudly face his death. Both characters are similar in their understanding of duties. This confidence allows them not to be afraid of death, as they understand that they have risked their personal lives for the protection of family duties.

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Another parallel is seen in the fact that fathers do not allow their children to be happy in the marriage. For instance, Creon, who is the father of Haimon is very strict with Antigone, even knowing that his son loves her. When Creon is asked whether he “really intends to steal this girl from [his] son” (Sophocles II. 459), he explains that it is not his intention. It happens because “death will do that for [him]” (Sophocles II. 459). This situation also stands as an example of the inner fight between personal sensations, on the one hand, and responsibilities and reputation, on the other one. Haimon loves Antigone, but he acknowledges that Creon is his father and his guide. Due to the fact that his father makes all things clear to him, Haimon will obey his father. And Haimon similarly to Rodrigue from The Cid chooses a duty as prior to love. He pronounces that “no marriage means more to [him] than [his father’s] continuing wisdom” (Sophocles III. 503). In the case of The Cid, from the very beginning, Chimene’s father was not against Rodrigue. He believed he was a better choice than Don Sanche. As a result, Chimene tries not rejoicing as she feels that something may change her father’s opinion. Her father has believed that Rodrigue “above all, is the very image of knightliness and of the man of courage” (I.1.8). Nevertheless, due to the fact that the king appointed the elderly father of Rodrigue, Don Diegue to the position of a tutor to the Prince of Castilless was offended by the choice. He believed that he deserved the position more. Rodrigue’s father has been rewarded for past services to the king. On the other hand, Chimene’s father was a great warrior admitted throughout the whole Spain for his heroic deeds. Thus, he acknowledges the fact that he has deserved the position more than Don Diegue. It makes both men exchange insults and forget about the desire of their children to marry. Due to the fact that Don Diegue is old, Rodrigue has to fight for the reputation and duty of his family. In both situations, young people suffer from the decisions of their older relatives. Despite the fact that these stories take place in absolutely different countries and cultural eras, the attitude of the young generation concerning adhering to honoring their family first is the same. However, it can be said that the motives of those actions are different. In the case of the Greek tragedy, Antigone is supposed to honor her brother and, thus, demonstrate her respect to equal blood. It requires religion. When the girl was asked whether she dared to break the law, she explained that she did that as “it was not God’s proclamation” (Sophocles II.357). Antigone respects the laws created by religion. However, for her, God’s proclamation stands for the “final justice that rules the world below makes no such laws” (Sophocles II.359). Creon decided to punish Antigone’s brother for the fact that he announced the war against the current rules, his elder brother. However, everyone knew that elder brother merely disobeyed the agreement created by his father. It means that Polynices had the right to fight for justice. However, even if all of the above-mentioned facts were not taken into account, all dead people were supposed to be buried according to particular rules in Greece, with at least someone saying the last prayer for them. The last prayer and covering had to be done for the “ghost’s peace” (Sophocles I. 219). Therefore, Antigone attempted to honor her family and her equal blood in the face of Gods to demonstrate the following. She was ready to risk everything in order to perform all duties being required by the person. On the other hand, Rodrigue did not face any religious duties in his attempts to protect the honor of his family. Those times are famous for the fact that all debates or disagreements have been solved with the help of duels. People were living according to vendetta rules. Therefore, a lot of people, especially Rodrigue and Chimene, were victimized by this old vendetta system. Moreover, if the person refused to take part in the duel or gamble away in it, the family was in infamy. It was probably even worse than to die. Therefore, Rodrigue had to risk everything he had had in order to save the honor of his family. Furthermore, only by saving the honor, while reaffirming the combat skills, one had the possibility to ask the king solving all other problems. It occurred as in the case of Rodrigue and Chimene’s marriage. The latter one had to respect her father’s duty and memory. Therefore, he asked the king to organize the duel after Rodrigue came back from the war. Despite the fact that she seriously loved Rodrigue and was ready to “follow him in the tomb” (Corneille III.5.63), she had to demand the duel.

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These literary pieces have provided a solid message. They both have learned to respect and honor one’s family. Despite the fact that the outcomes of actions directed on honoring duties are different in Antigone and The Cid, the message is the same. In the case of Antigone, the actions of the main character are directed by respect to duties. They are to be performed in the face of Gods in order to help the soul of the dead brother to find peace. In the case of The Cid, the actions of the main hero are directed by the vendetta system. They have existed during that particular timeframe and in that particular country. Both characters understand that their major responsibility is to honor their family, even if they have to risk their lives and their love. In the case of The Cid, the actions and attempts to protect the honor of the family are rewarded by the possibility to finally marry the girl the main character has always loved. In the case of Antigone, the girl is not rewarded for her honorable actions and she dies. It also provokes the death of the person who had loved her, meaning Haimon. Even despite the fact that her courageous gesture led her to death, it made Creon rethink his actions being directed against the will of gods.

The analysis has demonstrated that both literary pieces have a lot of common. They have presented one central theme, which concerns honoring family duties, more than personal interests. The analysis has allowed comparing and contrasting different characters from both stories, demonstrating that even despite the fact that actions had taken place in different locations and timeframes, the values remained unchanged.