The Main Conflict in Antigone by Sophocles

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About this sample


Words: 679 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Mar 8, 2024

Words: 679|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Mar 8, 2024

Sophocles' Antigone explores the complex relationship between the state and the individual through the story of Antigone, a young woman who defies the law to bury her brother. The play presents a conflict between two opposing values: the duty towards the state, and the duty towards family and the divine. Antigone's actions and reasoning raise questions about the legitimacy of authority and the consequences of disobeying it. The main conflict in Antigone is thus between the individual's conscience and the state's authority, with family and divine law complicating the matter further.

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The Conflict Between Antigone and Creon

The conflict between Antigone and Creon, the king of Thebes, drives the plot of the play. Creon has issued an edict forbidding the burial of Antigone's brother, Polyneices, who was deemed a traitor for attacking Thebes. Antigone believes that it is her duty to give her brother a proper burial, according to the customs and the divine laws. She defies Creon's edict and buries Polyneices, resulting in her arrest and a chain of tragic events. Creon, on the other hand, argues that he is defending the authority of the state and the stability of Thebes. He sees Antigone as a rebel who threatens the order of society and the rule of law.

Philosophical and Ethical Questions

The conflict between Antigone and Creon raises several philosophical and ethical questions, such as the nature and limits of authority, the role of the individual in society, and the relationship between divine and human law. One of the key issues at stake is the legitimacy of state authority. Creon believes that he has the right to make and enforce laws, and that these laws reflect the will of the people and the interests of the state. He insists that disobedience to his edict is an act of treason and an insult to the sovereignty of Thebes. Antigone, however, challenges this view by appealing to a higher law, that of the gods. She believes that the divine law supersedes human law, and that it is her duty to honor her brother and please the gods, even if it means defying the state. The conflict between Antigone and Creon thus becomes a clash between secular and sacred authority.

Another important dimension of the conflict is the tension between family and state. Antigone's loyalty to her family and her brother clashes with Creon's loyalty to the state. Antigone argues that family obligations are more important than civic duties, since they are rooted in blood and love, and that the dead deserve respect and honor regardless of their crimes. Creon, however, sees Antigone's actions as a threat to his own family and reputation, and accuses her of arrogance and defiance. He believes that familial ties should not undermine the authority of the state, and that individual interests should be subordinated to the common good. The conflict between Antigone and Creon thus highlights the tension between personal and public interests, and the difficulty of balancing these competing claims.

Finally, the conflict between Antigone and Creon raises questions about the nature of justice and the consequences of disobedience. Antigone believes that she is following the divine law and the laws of nature, which demand respect for the dead and the punishment of the wicked. She argues that her actions are not motivated by personal gain or rebellion, but by a sense of duty and justice. Creon, however, sees Antigone as a criminal who deserves punishment, and insists that justice demands obedience to the state and the laws. He believes that disobedience must be punished, even if it means sacrificing Antigone's life.

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In conclusion, the main conflict in Antigone is a complex and multifaceted one, involving the clash between individual conscience and state authority, the tension between family and state, and the question of justice and disobedience. Sophocles' play offers a powerful critique of the limits of state power, the importance of individual autonomy, and the role of divine and natural law in shaping human behavior. The conflict between Antigone and Creon remains a timeless and resonant one, reminding us of the enduring struggle between individual rights and collective responsibilities.

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The Main Conflict in Antigone by Sophocles. (2024, March 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 18, 2024, from
“The Main Conflict in Antigone by Sophocles.” GradesFixer, 07 Mar. 2024,
The Main Conflict in Antigone by Sophocles. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 18 Jul. 2024].
The Main Conflict in Antigone by Sophocles [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 07 [cited 2024 Jul 18]. Available from:
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