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Inheritance plays a very dominant role in the people’s lives. In both the books, Antigone written by Sophocles in the late 5th century in ancient Greece and The House Of Spirits written by Isabel Allende in the late 20th century, inheritance of sins form one of the major themes.
Antigone is the protagonist of ” Sophocles Antigone”. This play takes place in a society where the gods were highly worshipped. To understand this, it is important to know about Oedipus. Oedipus was a man of quick action and extraordinary insight. But, this habit of his eventually turns against him.He saved Thebes from the curse of the Sphinx and became the king overnight,he murders his own father without knowing it, He marries his own mother Jacosta without realizing it, he stabs his own eyes, and then he himself demands to be exiled. He does all of this without knowing that one day, his curse will also befall on his family.
The Greeks believed, that the entire family would be destroyed because of some crime committed by their forefathers because the god send them pain and suffering on order to avenge them. This is brought out in the very opening of the play when Antigone says:”My own dear sister, Ismene, of all the sufferings bequeathed by Oedipus, can you think of one that Zeus has not given the two of us in our lifetime?”  .. Antigone is very similar to Oedipus. She begins the play with almost the same characteristics that Oedipus did. But Antigone had one thing Oedipus didn’t, she knew her past very well. She was not afraid of the approaching fate of the her life.”When a house has been shaken by the gods, The ruin never leaves them, but creeps on Through generations of the family”2., The chorus sing of the curse, the sins committed by the forefathers, which can brutally destroy a family, generation by generation..” One generation does not free the next, But a god strikes them down”3., Antigone’s life revolves around the sins committed by her father due to which she lost her mother, brothers and finally she is going to lose herself. She is continuously haunted by the distortion that has destroyed her family. But she is aware of the fate that has been fixed for her and she feels that she has nothing to lose. ” The thrice told doom of my father, the entire destiny has come to us, to the famous children of Labdacus”4., this quote signifies the reflection of Antigone on her family curse again. She keeps talking about the many grieves that Oedipus handed down to his children. In her emotional confusion, she sees herself doomed because of the crimes committed by her father that has brought ruin to their family. By the “thrice told doom” she keeps repeating her future. Through this we come to know that even though the Greeks believed in that the “supernatural” power will destroy the families, they also believe on the fact that even the humans are responsible for the choice they make. Antigone, though not afraid, moans her awaited destiny and is continually haunted by her family past. “The girl is the violent child of a violent father”5. At this point of the story, Antigone is being irrational and being impulsive. She does not know what she is saying or doing. Now, she is in the same position as her father, Oedipus, was except for the fact that Antigone is in complete control of her fate which Oedipus wasn’t .
Unlike Antigone, where there was the society that believed in supernatural powers and beliefs, “The House of Spirits” takes place in a modern society where the ancient beliefs are not mentioned, still . Yet, the inheritance of the sins completely changes the course of the life of Alba.Alba is the granddaughter of Estaban Trueba. Estaban Garcia is the grandson of Estaban Trueba and Pancha Garcia. He pours all his hatred into Alba to take revenge.. This is so because Estaban Garcia wants to take revenge on his grandfatherby torturing his granddaughter. Hehates his grandfather for not acknowledging him as. In the epilogue of this book, we also find out that Alba becomes the narrator [i] of the story. The epilogue of the story plays a major role as it is spoken by Alba herself and it helps her realize the reason behind these painful incidents.
In “The House of the Spirits”, Alba suffers significantly because of her past..Estaban Trueba is the most prominent character in this book and he is the only character who stays from the beginning to the very end of the book. From the very beginning of the story, he makes a lots of mistakes without realising that one day it will bounce back at him through Alba. “He forbade anyone to talk to him and could not tolerate opposition; he viewed the slightest disagreement as a provocationâ€¦the peasants hid their daughters and clenched their fists helplessly because they could not confront him”6.. The peasants hated the ways Estaban treated them. He considered the workers and the peasants inferior to himself, so he did not give any importance to them. He was a representative of the conservative attitude. He believed that the peasants do not deserve a share in the wealth of the upper class. Estaban is a person who craves for power, and because of his attitude and the state of the government at that period of time, he became one of the richest person in the region. He treated the peasants and the “lower” class people with disrespect without understanding that these mistakes will affect his family too.”I am beginning to suspect that nothing that happens is fortuitous, that it all corresponds to a faith laid down before my birth”7, realization dawns on Alba that she is not going through all of this because of her fault, in fact she is suffering this pain because of the sins and misdeeds committed by people in her previous generations, especially by her grandfather.”Because my revenge would be another part of the same inexorable rite”8, Alba decides not to seek for revenge because, the sins committed by her in avenging herself will affect not only her, but also the future generations. She also realizes that this is a chain of events and if it does not stop, will continue forever. Estaban Trueba raped Pancha. And now the same sin is being committed by Estaban Garcia to the granddaughter of the rapist. Alba has a burning desire to stop this circle of sinful incidents that will cause the future generations to suffer. Due to the suffering she had undergone in the hands of Estaban Garcia, Alba andher grandfather to write their familt story in order to , “reclaim the past and overcome the terrors of my own”9. By writing this story, both Estaban Trueba and Alba are able to let go of their anger and their yearning to take revenge.
In both these books, it is seen that the course of the lives of the characters is determined through the sins committed by their forefathers. In “Sophocles Antigone”, it is brought out through Antigone. In “The House of the Spirits”, it is brought out through the youngest living character, Alba. In both these books, these characters realize that their life is shadowed by the sins that their ancestors committed in a very painful way. Antigone is tortured to death while Alba is physically and mentally tortured by Estaban Garcia. In “Antigone”, it was believed that Antigone suffered because the gods bring ruin to the family that has committed sins whereas in “The House of the Spirits”, Estaban Garcia’s desire for avenge became the consequence for the sins committed by the Estaban Trueba.In “The House of the Spirits”, we also see that the government and the political situation also plays an extremely important role in Alba’s life. It is because of her grandfather’s power than gave rise to so many rivals and it was because of the political situation that Alba was tortured. We see that unlike Antigone, Alba realised that the mistakes she does today will affect her upcoming generations. This is what changes her life forever. Antigone dies whereas Alba lives. Though both these books have different places of origin and different timelines, they depict the same theme through these books. Man’s life is truly determined by the sins committed by their ancestors in their previous generations.
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