Roles of Social Offender in Sophocles

The positions of a social criminal in Sophocles’ plays have been portrayed in a variety of ways. They seem to have been provoked by injustices done to their loved ones, prompting others to engage in civil disobedience. As a result, this research paper reflects on how these character flaws are manifested in multiple Sophocles plays. As we will see, particular conditions seem to be what decide each of these imperfections. For example, there would be a discussion of Antigone’s theme of love and how this role was portrayed in the play. In addition, Electra plays the part of vengeance. As a result, there would be an elaboration of how it is brought out. The actions of these characters in the plays are what have been seen to motivate the determination of their roles in the dramas. However, it is essential to note that this paper does not focus on one social offender from a single play, but on different characters from varied works of Sophocles.
The theme of revenge is manifested in Sophocles plays. There is a desire among some of the characters to ensure that they avenge their loved ones. They get satisfaction from these deeds and believe that they are seeking justice for their loved ones Electra spends her time at the palace mourning her father’s death and hoping for the return of her brother who was going to be the redeemer of the wrongs that needed to be corrected. The character feels that she had suffered so much at the hands of her mother and again the loss of her father. “I’m forced to be outrageous by the outrage all around me.” (303) Whatever motivates Electra from this quote is the fact that people around here are committing a lot of evils, which in the long run, inspires her also to commit malice. She could not watch the injustices done to her father go unpunished, yet she could stand on behalf of her fallen hero- father. Electra’s wish was to see the perpetrators of the crime brought to justice. In this regard, she has a strong desire to avenge her father by devoting all the strength she has to ensure the realization of her objective. In particular, the character feels that she does not need rest until everything is accomplished. In fact, she feels to have the capacity to control her hands, but not her mind. The desires were overwhelming to an extent she could believe that when a person kills, he or she should be executed in a bid to bring out the aspect of fairness. She wanted to kill her mother as a way of avenging the murder of her dad.
A crucial aspect to note is that Electra was surrounded an environment full of killers. Accordingly, she believes in avenging as the best way of achieving justice, forgetting that killing a person, regardless of the fundamental basis prompting such an act is against societal norms and leads a person to face the full force of the law. Still, Electra is depicted an individual who is after inclined to attaining justice through avenging as she considers it the only avenue that can ensure her father’s murders pay for their actions. As a result, the protagonist engages her mother into an argument and goes to the extent of painting her a murderer, given that she believes the mother was responsible for the father’s death. In defense, the queen, says she did that as revenge to what Agamemnon had done to her daughter. He had sacrificed her so that he could get his ships back home from the war. She had been made angry by that fact, and that was the reason she had decided to get rid of him. Thus, Electra’s mother had no regrets but instead believed that her husband deserved to die. In this regard, revenge is depicted further, as seemingly, all the characters are motivated by a specific element that makes them want to kill or avenge their loved ones regardless of the repercussions. The king is killed by his unfaithful wife with the help of her lover. They do this for their selfish needs but associate the act with the husband’s misdeed in sacrificing their daughter for his gains, which was to get his ship back from war. Thus, the wife claims that her actions are justified since Electra’s further had hurt her. So their daughter’s death was an equal to his death. Probably, had she known that Electra could end up tormenting her; maybe she could have sought justice using other means, including the rule of law in place. In the same regard, Electra wants to kill her mother and promises herself that she was going to avenge his father together with his brother. They fulfill this as soon as her brother arrives from the foreign land that he had been taken to for safety. All the actions in the play lead to revenge and murder. Just like her mother, he does not regret killing the murderer of her father and goes to the extent of pointing out that all criminals deserved to be punished the same way they committed the crimes, “Death for death,” that was the only way the dead got their justice. If the criminals are left unpunished, it would be unfair for the fallen heroes as justice will not prevail.
The element of love has been widely featured in Sophocles plays. Evidently, it is a motivator of various actions. For instance, it has been a reason most of the characters sacrifice their lives. Antigone is ready to take away her life for her murdered brother by burying him, despite the restrictions that existed. The penalty for burying his brother was to be killed and is the reason Antigone’s sister was scared to the extent of trying to stop her from burying their brother. However, she proceeds to take the risk of giving his loved one a holy burial because of the feel of affection she had for him. “If this is what you think, I should not want you, even if you asked to come. But I will bury him, and if I must die, I say this crime is holy, I shall lie down with him in death, and I shall be as dear to him as he is to me” (493). In this regard, the love for her brother prepares Antigone to sacrifice her life for his sake while providing a holy send off.
The Women of Thrakis’s play also features love. Deianeira, the wife of a leader, Heracles is upset when her husband starts to ignore his family and less often returns home because of his attachment to the various endeavors he pursues. She takes a step of always sending her son to look for him. However, someone is sent to tell her that her husband had been successful in his fights and he was going to return home soon. After Heracles cheated his wife about the girl he brought home as being one of the captives, Deianeira learns eventually that the lady was the lover of her husband. The fact hurts her because of her love for Heracles, which is also the primary motivator that prompts this wife to look for an alternative way of winning Heracles back, including the utilization of a love charm. She was doing this because Heracles had saved her previously when she was young from a man who had grabbed her. She sends the magic in the form of a gift to the husband. When it backfires, she resolves to kill herself, given that she considered herself unworthy, thus, could not live with the fact that she had used charm on the love of her life. From this analysis, Sophocles is bringing out how women’s fates are most of the tomes tied to their hero’s fate. They are so much into association with them, so far that a small wrong can hurt a loved one to the point of committing suicide. Also, there is an emphasis on how the destructive nature of love can be of significant loss. Deianeira is so much in love with her husband to the extent that she goes miles to seek for alternatives to win him back. In the long run, love is what sends her to the grave. In the same regard, love gives Antigone the determination to provide a peaceful and decent burial to her brother without caring about the death penalty associated with such an act, which was considered to be against societal norms. In the contemporary society, women are so much committed into love that they can do anything. They input all their strength to ensure everything goes smoothly. Their dedication has often cost them; to the extent of ending their lives. They always have a reason to fight for the things they know matter in their lives. Love has always been at the center of most breakups and even death.
The role of anger has been seen to manifest in Sophocles plays whereby characters that have been hurt by different circumstances. The reactions people give are motivated by the situations they are put in. For example, the need for power is what causes Ajax to be angry. He wants the people to recognize him as the best successor after the dead warrior. The fact that this fails to happen and members of the society consider the other person; it brings about fury. He does not want to understand that individuals evaluate others differently. Sophocles features a community where their ruler and warrior have been murdered. Ajax had seen that he could take over from the fallen warrior as he was fit to succeed him. A conflict arises between him and Odysseus since the person who was going to be given the sword would be considered the greatest warrior after the fallen one. However, the sword is not given to him; the other two kings gave it to Odysseus (Sophocles 43). He gets mad about this fact and decides that he was going to kill them because of the disgrace caused. However, his friend, goddess Athena, tricks him with another option; kill the cattle and herdsmen. When Ajax comes back to his senses, he feels terrible about what he had done. The shame that overwhelms him prompts his desire to commit suicide. He could not live with the fact that the need for power had made him commit such evil. His concubine, Tecmessa, begs him to accept and live with that point. She did not want him to kill himself and live her and the child. Ajax promises that he is going to cleanse himself and bury the sword that he had used in the killings. He sets off leaving the shield to his son.
However, a message from the prophet Teucer is passed that he is not to be let out of the compound because they know he is going to kill himself. The search for him by the soldiers begins, but they are too late. They find that he has buried his sword and he had called for revenge against the entire army before killing himself. His concubine finds his body first, and the King orders their son taken to him so that he could be safe from the enemies. A conflict arises on where he is supposed to be buried. The two kings want the body to be left in the woods and be fed on by scavengers, but Ajax’s stepbrother insists on burying it. The play brings out the characteristics of Ajax as the great hero who is unable to deal with his weaknesses and limits. The pride that he has always been upholding had been hurt within a short time by a woman. He finds an escape from the consequences of his deeds. He is not able to live with the fact that he can be tricked into doing something that he considers the character of the weak that cannot make their choices. He resolves to kill himself to make the shame he had brought upon himself go away. He wants to preserve his integrity, but not alive, where everyone looks at him; hence, death is the only option. In this regard, the role of anger, as illustrated in Sophocles, has been brought out in the death of Ajax and also the mutilation of the cattle and sheep. The hatred that developed after Ajax is denied the title and sword that could make him the greatest warrior prompts the actions that make him regret later. Also, this role has portrayed the fact that for one to be honored in the society, the entire community should agree on what they think of you. The society has individuals that are of the same character as Ajax- the desire to be given leadership roles by force. If they are denied such posts, they go ahead to do things that are harmful to them and others, including death.
Sophocles in his plays has featured murder as an evil in the society. It is brought by anger resulting from disagreements amongst people. Ajax has highlighted the role of murder. After he is not given the greatest warrior title, he gets furious and kills the livestock and shepherds. He murders all of them, mutilates the remaining and tortures others that he took home. Anger came as a result of his desire for leadership, which was not fulfilled. He goes ahead and satisfies his rage by committing the evil. Also, the role of murder is seen in Electra, who kills her mother, in search of her father’s justice. In the same regard, Electra’s mother had murdered the husband while avenging for her daughter whom the husband had sacrificed to the gods for personal gains.
Family and Responsibility
The role of family and responsibility has been featured in Sophocles play in the way it is upheld and considered valuable. For instance, in women of Thraki’s, Deineira fights to have his family back. He wants her husband to stay close to them. She sends his son to go ahead and look for him. She was worried after she learned he had gone to war. Her struggle shows how much she was responsible and adored her family, thus, she wanted all members to be together. Antigone is also responsible for the death of his brother in that he wants to give him a holy burial, despite the limitations. She wants to uphold the family virtues of togetherness and being there for one another. Accordingly, she is ready to go all miles, even die, but to ensure she buries her brother as required.
Sophocles plays brings out different roles of social offenders according to how the characters are portrayed. The flaws of characters are seen from the way they react and behave. In particular, this research paper concentrated on roles such as anger, love, family responsibility, murder, and revenge, with most of them resulting from what people have gone through. For example, Sophocles paints Electra play as the most manifested with a vengeance. The characters have a motive to make those responsible for misdeeds suffer in the same measure they inflicted pain to their victims, “death for death.” The role of love is brought out in the play Antigone and Women of Thraki’s. Antigone is ready to sacrifice her life, primarily to give his brother a holy burial, no matter the conditions placed by the king. The penalty for disobedience was death, but could not be measured by the love she had for her brother. In the Women of Thraki’s play, the wife of the king takes her life in the event of trying to win her husband’s love back. She goes to the extent of putting a love charm on him to ensure he did not go away. Family responsibility is evident in the Women of Thraki’s, where we see the King’s wife trying all she could to make her family unite. She wants her husband to come back home often and goes to the extent of sending her son to look for him. In this regard, Sophocles based on the occurrences in the contemporary society where people take the initiative to revenge for their loved ones, kill for reasons well known to them, love others, get angry when things do not go as per their wish, and take care of their families. Most of these civil disobedience are still provoked by injustices and tyranny as also illustrated by Sophocles; hence, the author’s ideas remain relevant.

Works Cited
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Ormand, Kirk. A guide to Sophocles. London: Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.

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—. The Ajax of Sophocles. Greece: Tyler Great, 1895. Print.

—. Women of Trachis. Greece: Francis kent, 1991. Print.

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