In setting the central characters (Creon and Antigone) against each other, Sophocles’ play Antigone embodies a conflict between one’s duty to the state and laws and the responsibility to family and morality. The author uses a tragic conflict between the two main characters to paint a picture of the antagonism that exists in society between morality and family and duty to the law. This paper looks at the basic conflict presented in Antigone as well as the positions of the two antagonistic characters.
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Sophocles uses Antigone to represent the duty to family and morality. Creon, on the other hand, represents duty to the law and the state. Antigone respects the decrees of the gods and family responsibility more than any laws set by man. In episode one, Antigone and her sister (Ismene) discuss the fate of their brothers’ corpses.
Eteocles (one of the brothers), is perceived as a hero by the state and is expected to be buried in honor, while Polyneices is to be abandoned to be eaten by the birds. Antigone swears to bury his brother irrespective of the consequences. This is the source of the conflict as the reigning ruler (Creon) holds his ground and swears to uphold the law under any circumstance.
Though the positions of the two characters are both justifiable, the ultimate hero of the conflict is Antigone. Positioned as the protagonist in the story, Antigone maintains a strong sense of responsibility to family and morality and willingly goes against the instructions of Creon, which leads to her arrest.
She asserts that her fate can only be decided by the gods and looks forward to judgment in the afterlife (Sophocles 63). Antigone prefers to leave the world on her terms by committing suicide in the cave where she is being kept prisoner by Creon.