Antigone, a classic drama by Sophocles, is among the most important pieces of Western literature. The play, set in a patriarchal culture, tells the tale of Antigone and her sister Ismene as they struggle to balance their sense of justice and morality with their kinship to their family. King Creon forbids Antigone from burying her brother Polynices, but she disobeys him and does so. She does this by defying both the authority of the government and the laws of the gods, and she ultimately pays dearly for her deeds. Sophocles poses significant questions concerning the nature of law, justice, loyalty, and power in his play Antigone. The conflict between Antigone and Creon in Sophocles’ Antigone is rooted in conflicting principles of justice, morality, and power, which ultimately lead to tragedy.
The conflict between Antigone and Creon in Sophocles’ Antigone is a result of opposing views on what defines justice. Antigone’s dedication to the gods and their laws, which she regards as superior to those of man, is the foundation of her sense of justice (Jebb, 1635). “Those rules not of today or yesterday, It is not proper for us to flout, but it is right to reverence them forever,” she tells Ismene, explaining her position (Sophocles 1605). Antigone praises the laws of the gods in this passage because she thinks they should take precedence over human laws. For Antigone, the gods and heavenly law represent the purest kind of justice. This prompts her to disobey Creon’s command that Polyneices not be given a decent burial. Creon’s law, according to Antigone, is unjust because it disobeys the divine law, which mandates that all men, regardless of their transgressions, receive proper death rites.
Creon, in contrast to Antigone, has a distinct sense of justice that is founded on both his own laws and human laws. He declares in the play’s opening scene, “The one who disobeys my ors own power and authority by placing his laws above the laws of the gods (Jebb, 1635). He thinks that those who defy his laws should be punished since his laws are just. His sense of justice is founded solely on his own might and legitimacy, not on any higher laws or principles.der and goes against it, I will put him to death,” demonstrating his belief that human laws should take precedence over divine laws (Sophocles 1604). Creon established a justice system based on hi
The conflict between Antigone and Creon in Sophocles’ Antigone is rooted in conflicting principles of morality. Creon’s moral perspective is based on the regulations he has established as the ruler of Thebes, whereas Antigone’s is based on her trust in divine law and her familial obligation to bury her brother. By stating that her choices are guided by a higher moral standard than Creon’s law of the state, Antigone justifies her decision to bury her brother Polynices. She states, “I say it is the gods, not mortals, who have commanded me”; she believes that she is in the right because she is following the divine law. Her conviction that divine law is supreme over human law drives Antigone’s acts. She regards her brother’s unburied body as a violation of divine law, and she is willing to break Creon’s command to fulfill her familial obligation and respect the gods.
Creon, on the other hand, bases his authority on his own legitimacy as a leader and is committed to upholding it. He asserts, “No, the gods will not persuade me of this! I cherish justice and the rules of men most (Sophocles 1623). Thus, the contrast between Creon’s moral code and Antigone’s is demonstrated by his rigid commitment to his law and his unflinching faith in his own judgment. The foundation of Creon’s moral philosophy is the notion that the stability of the state is more significant than the desires of its members. He considers Antigone’s activities to be an assault on his authority as ruler and a threat to the peace of the state.
The conflict between Antigone and Creon in Sophocles’ Antigone is further driven by opposing theories of power. As the king of Thebes, Creon has the most authority in the city and is determined to use it. He clarifies, “That is the rule I establish. The law is unchangeable by man. I am in charge here” (Sophocles 1620). Creon firmly believes in the authority of the state and is committed to upholding it at any cost. He refuses to listen to any reasoning against his choice and demands that Polyneices, Antigone’s brother, must stay unburied as retribution for his rebellion. In this way, Creon represents the state’s unchecked power and its capacity to trample on people.
Antigone, on the other hand, possesses quite a different kind of power. Antigone isn’t hesitant to challenge the authority of the state and its rules, despite the fact that she’s a woman and from a lower social class. She blatantly disobeys Creon’s orders to leave her brother’s body unburied and maintains that she has the right, as an individual, to adhere to the divine precepts, even if they conflict with those of the state. She clarifies, “I wouldn’t be concerned about the risk. I’ll bury him and halt the crying” (Sophocles 1613). Antigone is thus a representation of the strength of the individual and their capacity to resist repressive rules. The conflict at the center of the drama is the clash of these two types of power. The conflict between Antigone and Creon stems from this persistent battle for power and finally results in tragedy.
The tragedy in Antigone is demonstrated in the characters’ flaws and the consequences that arise from them. Antigone disobeys Creon’s demands because she is obstinate and unyielding in her sense of duty. Because of her acts, she receives a horrible outcome and is put to death. Similar to Creon, whose arrogance and stubbornness keep him from hearing what his son and the Chorus have to say, they ultimately cause Antigone and his son to die (Bowra, 1637). These flaws tragically show how one error or one arrogant moment can have far-reaching effects. The characters’ suffering is another way that the tragedy is evident. While Ismene, Antigone’s sister, is scared of the repercussions they may experience, Antigone is prepared to accept certain death in order to preserve her convictions. Creon is devastated when his son Haemon kills himself, and he suffers even more when his wife also takes her own life (Bowra, 1637). These painful scenes highlight the misery of a situation in which characters must deal with the repercussions of both their own actions and those of others.
Finally, the tragedy in Antigone is seen in the sense of the inevitability of the characters’ fate. The characters are powerless to avoid their fate despite the Chorus’ warnings and Haemon and Ismene’s interventions. This inevitability is further highlighted by the fact that Antigone’s death is seen as a necessary punishment, as she is determined to go against Creon’s laws. Creon also faces misery as his son and wife kill themselves. Bowra argues that this is an inevitable punishment by the gods for Creon’s pride and disrespect (Bowra, 1637). Ultimately, Creon is forced to acknowledge the existence of divine beings and respect them (Knox, 1639). This sense of inevitable consequences highlights the sorrow of a situation in which characters are powerless to avoid the results of their actions.
In conclusion, the conflict between Antigone and Creon in Sophocles’ Antigone is rooted in conflicting principles of justice, morality, and power, which ultimately lead to tragedy. Creon’s sense of justice is based on human rules and his own laws, but Antigone’s is based on her loyalty to the gods and their laws. While Antigone bases her moral perspective on her faith in divine justice and her duty to bury her brother, Creon bases his on the rules he has set as the king of Thebes. Antigone utilizes her strength of character to defy oppressive laws, whereas Creon, who has the most power in the city, is determined to use it. The tragedy of the play is ultimately shown in the characters’ flaws, sufferings, and inevitable fate.
Mays, Kelly. J. “The Norton Introduction to Literature (Shorter Thirteenth Edition).” Norton & Company Ltd.