People with different views of the way humanity and its laws function reach certain stages of moral development. Kohlberg presents us with these stages of moral development. The individual is categorized under his or her moral priority and the way he or she would handle unexpected situations. In Sophocles’ play, Antigone, characters illustrate Kohlberg’s moral development principles.
Ismene embodies Kohlberg’s pre-conventional stage throughout Sophocles’s play Antigone. In Kohlberg’s first level of moral thinking, physical consequences of an action determine its goodness or badness regardless of the humane meaning or value of these consequences. This pre-conventional stage is conveyed through out the play in Ismene. Ismene depicts the question of what is right and what is wrong according to its punishment and consequences. She follows the laws of Creon for she believes her morals cannot possibly be compared to that of a king. She fears the penalty for her actions and acts on her own best interest. Society tends to stay with authoritarian law because they feel the law is above their beliefs and they are powerless against it. Even when Antigone comes to Ismene and asks for her assistance she mo
Ismene symbolizes society"tms ignorance and social orientation to authoritarian law. That final justice that rules the world below makes no such laws. Creon"tms pride and arrogance weighed him down from blossoming in to the post-conventional stage and becoming more intuitive to, not just to mans law, but universal principles as well. Antigone is able to see beyond "Law and Order" and the approval of others, she is able to find her own moral beliefs and put them over authoritarian rule. In Kohlberg"tms three stages of moral reason, the levels of maturity and principles of growth are integral in the characterization of the individual. Creon is one who responds to his duties and obligations to the fullest, however uses the law as his only support. However Antigone is mature enough to realize the limitation to these laws and when they should dealt with. Your edict, King, was strong, But all your strength is a weakness against itself" (Sophocles 763). Society cannot seem to break away from the lower stages of moral development and enter the post- conventional stage. Society has to realize man"tms faults and realize that there is a greater universal decree, greater than any other created by man. The state of principled conscience is reached only by Antigone who has reached beyond law and order to a greater superiority. What was once everything is now nothing. Ismene fails to realize that there is a greater cause beyond Antigone"tms breaking of the law, Antigone is trying to accomplish something regardless of the law, and Ismene is oblivious to her actions. Society has to grow out of the pre conventional stage and needs to put obedience and punishment behind for a greater cause.