Sophocles’ tragic drama, Antigone, presents to the reader a full range of conflicts and their resolution after a climax.
In Antigone the protagonist, Antigone, is humble and pious before the gods and would not tempt the gods by leaving the corpse of her brother unburied. She is not humble before her uncle, Creon, because she prioritizes the laws of the gods higher than those of men; and because she feels closer to her brother, Polynices, than she does to her uncle. The drama begins with Antigone inviting Ismene outside the palace doors to tell her privately: “What, hath not Creon destined our brothers, the one to honoured burial, the other to unburied shame?” Antigone’s offer to Ismene (“Wilt thou aid this hand to lift the dead?) is quickly rejected, so that Antigone must bury Polynices by herself. The protagonist, Antigone, is quickly developing into a rounded character, while Ismene interacts with her as a foil, demurring in the face of Creon’s threat of stoning to death as punishment for violators of his decree regarding Polynices. The main conflict thusfar observed is that which the reader sees taking shape between Antigone and the king.
Antigone is a religious person who is not afraid of death, and who respects the laws of the gods more than those of men:
Nay, be what thou wilt; but I will bury him: well for me to die in doing that. I
shall rest, a loved one with him whom I have loved, sinless in my crime; for I owe a longer allegiance to the dead than to the living: in that world I shall abide for ever. But if thou wilt, be guilty of dishonouring laws which the gods have established in honour.
Ismene is unmoved by the reasoning and sentiments of...
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...e pervading themes in Sophocles is the justice of the universe. We are to understand that, in some sense, cosmic justice ultimately prevails (718).
Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.
Segal, Charles Paul. “Sophocles’ Praise of Man and the Conflicts of the Antigone.” In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.
Sophocles. Antigone. Translated by R. C. Jebb. The Internet Classic Archive. no pag.
“Sophocles” In Literature of the Western World, edited by Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. NewYork: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1984.
Watling, E. F.. Introduction. In Sophocles: The Theban Plays, translated by E. F. Watling. New York: Penguin Books, 1974.
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