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Choices That Mean Life or Death In Antigone

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Choices That Mean Life or Death In Antigone

The play Antigone was penned by Sophocles, a Greek writer, sometime in the

late 440s B.C. This Greek tragedy uses a combination of literary elements in order to

grab the reader’s attention. Two such elements are theme and conflict. Most

importantly, Sophocles’s Antigone deals with themes, such as the conflict of family

versus state, the conflict of individual versus government, and the conflict of human

versus divine laws, that are still very prevalent in modern human societies (Nardo 16).

The play, Antigone, has several primary themes. It raises the question: “Which

laws are paramount and most binding– human or divine laws?”(16). Antigone provides

insights into the human condition and also into the relationship between human actions

and divine will and judgement (15). Family ties and family loyalty are also themes in

Antigone. Antigone as well as Creon were forced to decide who their friends were and

how they would treat those friends (Hogan 127). It is this conflict of family versus state

that really gets the reader emotionally involved in the play. It is a theme that most

readers in modern times can relate to. The ancient values of kinship and state would

have been very interesting to the people in Sophocles’s first audience because of the

way ancient Greece was set up. They knew that while one was to care for blood ties

and have allegiance to family members, one was to also think about the welfare of the

city-state (Allbaugh).

Literary critic Robin Fox wrote that “the conflict in Antigone is one in which

Antigone’s duties are not to individuality, selfhood, or to private affairs of the heart, but

to her...

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...ss, 1999. 44-51.

Hogan, James C. A Commentary on the Plays of Sophocles. Edwardsville, IL:

Southern Illinois UP, 1991.

Knox, Bernard M.W. “Antigone Dies for Her Principles.” Readings on Antigone. Ed.

Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. 77-82.

Nardo, Don. “Sophocles and Antigone.” Readings on Antigone. Ed. Don Nardo. San

Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. 14-25.

Norwood, Gilbert. “Respect for the Community Is as Important as Respect for Loved

Ones.” Readings on Antigone. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press,

1999. 59-63.

Pomeroy, Sarah B. “By Acting Like a Man, Antigone Provokes Fear and Hostility.”

Readings on Antigone. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999.

83-87.

Sophocles. Antigone. Trans. Michael Townsend. New York: Harper & Row, 1962.
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