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Decoding International LawSemiotics and the Humanities$
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Susan Tiefenbrun

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385779

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385779.001.0001

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On civil disobedience, jurisprudence, feminism, and the law in the antigones of sophocles and anouilh

On civil disobedience, jurisprudence, feminism, and the law in the antigones of sophocles and anouilh

Chapter:
(p.221) 7 ON CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, JURISPRUDENCE, FEMINISM, AND THE LAW IN THE ANTIGONES OF SOPHOCLES AND ANOUILH
Source:
Decoding International Law
Author(s):

Susan Tiefenbrun

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385779.003.007

This chapter examines the connection between civil disobedience, jurisprudence, and feminism in ancient and modern comparative legal systems as viewed from a postmodernist perspective by comparing Sophocles' Antigone, written in Athens in 5th century B.C., and Jean Anouilh's Antigone, written and performed in France in 1944 during the tyranny of the German Occupation. In Sophocles' Antigone, civil disobedience is represented by the tension between two different characters, Antigone and Creon. The most dramatic form of tension in the play is Antigone's act of civil disobedience that effectively causes legal reform in Thebes. Despite the obvious similarities between Antigone and Creon, Sophocles stresses the differences between their opposing jurisprudential positions on natural law and legal positivism. Sophocles espouses the argument that illegal protest can accomplish legal reform, but Anouilh does not appear to agree. In Sophocles' Antigone, the mind-set of the ruler and the hegemonic political system that produced an unjust law are ultimately reformed by virtue of the insight that tragedy naturally produces. Creon is eventually enlightened by Antigone's nonviolent protest, and his new understanding has the positive effect of suggesting a move away from a hegemonic to a pluralistic conception of the law. In contrast to the Sophoclean tragedy, Anouilh's melodrama does not propose civil disobedience as an effective force for legal or political reform. The two plays are in fact very different in form and substance. The chapter tries to tease out the underlying causes for Anouilh's radical change from his Sophoclean source.

Keywords:   Antigone, Sophocles, Jean Anouilh, civil disobedience, jurisprudence, feminism

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