SOPHOCLE ANTIGONE RESEARCH PAPER
Antigone is the most famous among the Sophocles’ plays after Oedipus Rex. It was written over 2 400 years ago and is among the finest examples of a Greek tragedy. It explicitly explores its moral issue centrally through Creon, and Antigone, the main two characters. It also remains quite relevant to date as it was when Sophocles first wrote it. It has an amazing plot where it follows the events of Oedipus legend, has a back story, a background to the story and the tragedy itself of the suicidal deaths of Haemon, Creon’s son and Antigone’s fiancé, Antigone, and Creon’s wife. It is a well-written down book with a clearly defined Greek tragedy story. The research paper will discuss the analysis of Antigone that includes the themes used in the story and the moral questions that it arises.
Antigone is a tragedy by Sophocles, who is an ancient Greek playwright. It was written around 442 BCE. Antigone was written before Oedipus at Colonus and Oedipus the King. Moreover, it goes on where Aeschylus plays, which is Seven Against Thebes comes to an end. The story is about Antigone’s burial of Polynices, her brother, while defying the laws of Creon and those of the state, together with the tragic repercussions of her disobedient civil act. It is a story concerning the aftermath of a civil war where Oedipus’s two sons: Polyneices, and Eteocles, murder each other while fighting for the throne of Thebes, and the new King Creon, their uncle, forbids the proper burial of Polyneices for his disloyalty. After Antigone, the defiant sister buries her brother. She is taken before king Creon. She is sentenced to death because she rejects acknowledging her wrongdoing and chooses to stay defiant. His son, Haemon, Antigone’s fiancé, pleads with him to reconsider her sentencing, but he dismisses him. Teiresias, a blind and trustworthy prophet to Creon, also pleads with him, and he eventually agrees. Unfortunately, by the time the King decides to relieve Antigone of her death sentence, they find her dead, having committed suicide, and Haemon, his son, dead as well on finding Antigone, his fiancée, dead. Creon’s wife also kills herself on hearing about her son’s dead leaving a grief-stricken Creon who lost his son, wife, and niece under his rule of Thebes.
Sophocles narrates about the eternal struggle between individuals, natural law, humans, and the state. Moreover, it brings about the gulf between free will and fate. In Antigone, Sophocles showcases the power of tragedy and that it comes from the conflict between right and right and not the clash between right and wrong. When the play begins, the sons of Oedipus, Polynices, and Eteocles have a succession battle over who to lead Thebes, which led to their death as their father had prophesied sealing their fates (Bobrick 40).
Their uncle, Cleon, assumed the throne and decreed that only Eteocles, the rightful, should get a proper burial. At the same time, his brother, Polynices, who led a foreign army against Thebes, gets labeled as a traitor, and his corpse is left to be chewed up by dogs and birds and violated (Bobrick 40). The death penalty is put in place for anyone who tries to bury him and provide the rights necessary to reach the underworld for the dead. It brings about the theme of respect for death in the play as Cleon shows little to no regard for Polynices death by denying him a proper burial which Antigone, his sister, argues when she buries him.
Antigone defies Creon’s orders bringing about a tragic collision between opposed duties and the laws (Bobrick 40). That is, between natural and sacred commands that determine the burial of the dead and the non-religious law determined to re-establish the civic order between private morals, rule of obedience, public duty, and the rule of law that hinders personal freedom for the common good. The themes of courage and conviction are well defined in this part of the play as although Antigone knows that her actions might lead to her death, her love for her brother prevails over her uncle’s unjust decree of refusal of her brother’s burial.
Philosophers and scholars widely held Antigone and European poets as a good Greek tragedy and a work of art that was almost perfect compared to any other production. Antigone’s theme of resistance between authority and the person has come about throughout the centuries, putting up simultaneous concerns and values onto the moral and political structure that Antigone established (Koulouris 1). The play reflects changing moral and cultural conditions. Antigone is described as the first heroine of the Western drama. It is explained as her being both heroic to morals and a willful stubborn devotee that leads to her death and those of other two innocent people leaving behind her duty to the living because of the dead. It brings about the theme of consciousness versus reality.
Creon, Antigone’s uncle who becomes King, also divided the critics’ opinions between sympathy and censure. However, some critics have proposed that the tragedy is Creon’s and not Antigone’s. Creon’s violation of personal, family, and divine obligations and his abuse of authority center the drama’s tragedy. They argue that his denial to recede the judgment against Antigone that came from his decree not to bury her brother led to the tragic deaths of Antigone, his wife, and son. In the play, superficial criticism interprets Creon’s character as a hypocritical dictator and considers Antigone as a blameless victim. Sophocles shows magnificent art in the touches where he makes the reader sense Creon and Antigone competing for what he believes to be right. At the same time, both know that they are laying themselves open to blame for wronging another.
Antigone is not a play about the tragic end of a victim of dictatorship or the corruption of authority than about the unavoidable cost of competing conditions that define human conditions. Both Creon and Antigone share in the suffering which each has caused. They have destroyed themselves and each other because of what they believe and who they are. Both are wrong and right in a world where there is a lack of simple choices and moral certainty. Moreover, the theme of gender roles is displayed in the play (Miller 163). Some of the attention to gender has been focused on the relation of marriage and consummation in Haemon’s brutal suicide. Scholars have connected Haemon’s killing himself to Antigone’s interest in the substitute construction of gender (Miller 163). Haemon’s actions, that is, his suicide, destabilize the categorical structure of gender and sexuality
The theme of gender roles is also shown as the play opens when Antigone declares to her sister, Ismene, her intention to go against Creon and the order not to bury her brother and ask her sister for help. However, Ismene tells her that women must not refuse men’s will or the city’s authority and invite death. The theme of courage and defiance is illustrated in this situation. Ismene’s timidness and respectfulness underscore Antigone’s defiance and courage (Koulouris 9). The readers of the play describe Antigone as a tragic hero who makes a decision that comes from her nature and then rashly and dreadfully maintains the choice to the point of self-destruction. The play showcases this when Antigone chooses her comprehension of duty over self-preservation and gender-imposed submission to male authority rejecting her sister’s and kinship’s advice. Critics argue that Antigone denies her sister’s sensible advice and kinship resisting her will, the same blood kinship that affirms her supreme devotion in burying her brother.
In the play, both Creon and Antigone push to frightening ends, and what is important to both of them is quite clear. The play uses themes that include consciousness versus reality, respect for death, free will versus fate, gender roles, and courage and defiance to swiftly explore the play and the characters involved. Antigone’s moral conditions are verified, but also their massive cost in suffering is barred. Antigone’s main opposition between Antigone’s and Creon’s duty to self and the state shows important mystery. Sophocles displays the testing of both sides and reveals both their potential for greatness and destruction.
Bobrick, Elizabeth. “Sophocles’ Antigone and the Self-Isolation of the Tragic Hero.”
Psychoanalytic Inquiry. January 2015 Vol. 35 Issue 1 pp. 40-46. Accessed November 11, 2021.Result List: Bobrick, Elizabeth. “Sophocles’ Antigone and the Self-Isolation…: Wayland OneSearch (oclc.org)
Koulouris, Theodore. “Neither Sensible, Nor Moderate: Revisiting the Antigone.”
Humanities. June 2018 Vol. 7 Issue 2 pp. 1-17. Accessed November 11, 2021.
Miller, Peter. “Destabilizing Haemon: Radically Reading Gender and Authority in Sophocles’
Antigone.” Literature Resource Center, 2014 Vol. 41 Issue 2 pp. 163-185. Accessed on November 11, 2021. Destabilizing Haemon: Radically Reading Gender and Authority in Sophocles’ …: Wayland OneSearch (oclc.org)