Judgments And Antigone

.. t justified? Well apparently Martha Nussbaum, a critic, believes that Antigones actions can be more justified. She states: Antigones act shows a deeper understanding of the community and its values than Creon does when she argues that the obligation to bury the dead is an unwritten law, which cannot be set aside by the decree of a particular ruler. The belief that not all values are utility-relative, that there are certain claims whose neglect will prove deeply destructive of communal attunement and individual character, is a part of Antigones position left untouched by the plays implicit criticism of her single-mindedness.” (1348) This goes to show that Antigones actions were based on her beliefs that a person who has died must be paid his or her respects. However, Creons actions were based on a threat which was Antigones testing of his authority.

So Creon did not justify Antigones actions because he did not want to. He did not want his power tested. The bottom line is that there was justice in Antigones judgments that led to the crime that she committed by burying her brother. While evaluating The Reader, one also sees obvious signs of judgment. Some of the judgments in The Reader include Hannas choice to keep it a secret that she could not read.

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If Hanna had told the judge that she was illiterate, then she might not have been convicted because she would have been unable to write the reports. During World War II, Hanna participated in the heinous crimes against the Jews in the concentration camps. However, she is portrayed as an innocent character in the story. When she is with Michael, Hanna seems held-back as if she is hiding something, rather than the aggressive one might think she is. An example of Hanna wanting to hold back is when Michael asked Hanna about her past. Michael expresses his thoughts: “Things I wanted to know more about had vanished completely from her mind, and she didnt understand why I was interested in what happened to her parents, whether she had had brothers and sisters, how she had lived in Berlin and what shed done in the army” (Schlink 39).

Hanna simply responded by saying, “The things you ask, kid!” (39) Hanna once became outrageous and hit Michael because she thought that he left her alone on the bike trip. Hanna later becomes aggressive when Michael came on to the streetcar to visit her. She ignored him, and then later blamed the whole incident on Michael by saying, “How should I know why youre going to Schwetzingen? How should I know why you choose not to know me? Its your business, not mine. Would you leave now?” (47) Besides those occurrences, Hanna was warm and caring to Michael, and that is why he fell in love with her. She always ran him warm baths and held him tight at night. Michaels judgment was based on the fact that there was an unpleasant home environment.

He said that one of the happiest moments in his life was on their bike trip together. Michael described it by saying, “We were never happier than in those weeks of April” (51). He used this justification to spend a lot of time with her and not his family members. Hanna toyed (made him extremely happy, sad, mad, and made Michael feel as if he was in love) with young Michaels emotions, but her character was not portrayed as one who could commit a crime against people. Hannas judgments were based on the fact that she had to participate in the concentration camps.

She was not ill willed. One of Hannas last wishes was to take her money and donate it to the Jewish League of Illiteracy. Which she did not even take the credit for, because Michael was told to use the name Hanna Schmitz, not Frau, which has her real name. Even the lady in Boston was surprised, but still angry at Hanna when she found out that Hanna could not read until she went to prison. That is when it became obvious that Hanna did not write any reports. So, Hannas decision based on her judgments to not tell anyone that she cannot read got her sent to prison.

Even Michaels decision not to tell anyone, except his father, that Hanna was illiterate until after her death, kept Hanna in jail. Hanna did not want anyone to experience a life of illiteracy, so she donated her savings to a literary organization. So to a certain extent, Hanna was falsely accused and her punishment was unfair. Although Hanna did hurt other women in the concentration camp, her character portrayed her as too innocent to have malice towards others. Hanna just probably followed orders.

As an added incentive to get Hanna to hurt others, the other concentration camp guards probably told her that the Jews were hurting the German people. Unable to read or write, Hanna probably trusted what she constantly heard from the guards around her. Hanna probably felt that Jews were evil because of this and lead to her actions being justifiable in her own mind. In many ways, Antigone and Hanna are very similar in their course of action. Antigone knew she was breaking the law because she deep down in her heart felt that it was her moral obligation to bury Polynices.

To an outsider, Antigone is just another criminal. But as readers, it is apparent that Antigone was only doing what she believed in. One may feel sympathetic for Antigone, and think that Creon is blind to not be able to justify Antigones action. Her judgments seem pure and morally correct. In the same manner, Hanna did commit a crime, and to the outsider she should have been punished.

However, readers can justify her actions based on certain judgments, knowing that the real character of Hanna could not read the news around her and was oblivious to what was truly going on in Germany. Hanna probably thought that she was doing a good thing by hurting Jews, not knowing that it was really Hitler who was evil. A person is able to justify Hannas actions and feel that her sentence in prison was unjust. It is thought that she wanted to give back to those who could not read because of her conversation with Michael about where to donate the savings Hanna had. Since Antigones last action based on pure judgment to bury her brother qualified her as a tragic hero, Hannas last wish based on her judgment to donate money to the Jewish League Against Illiteracy, should also qualify her as a tragic hero.

And that is why they are both very similar. Their actions based on judgments left others in the story in a stupor. The people in the story could not justify the actions that either of the two characters took. However, their actions based on judgments led them to become tragic heroes. In conclusion, it has been discussed that judgments and how a persons actions based on their judgments lead others to perceive them in different ways. However, if certain actions based on judgments are morally unacceptable, and cannot be justified, then the person must suffer punishment, whether or not they are at fault. Both Hanna and Antigone were falsely accused because their actions were not justified properly in the eyes of those who judged them. They may have committed crimes, but when looked into carefully, it is evident that their judgments were based on self-beliefs and were not, including Hanna, meant to hurt anyone else.

So judgments are made, one must be sure that we look into others actions before they make their own judgments. Bibliography Schilb, John and John Clifford. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2000. Schlink, Bernhard. The Reader.

New York, NY: Random House, 1995. “Judgment” The American Heritage Dictionary. 1994 ed.