Antigone Themes Sample

Antigone was written in Greek more than two thousand years ago. Greek is a land that is up to date regarded as the birthplace of democracy. Sophocles was a part and parcel of the independent movement, but custom, conventions, and the conventions of the gods also determined a significant deal of roles in Greek life. This is reflected in the themes that are in the play. These comprise of: Fate, Family, Citizenship, gender, Individual versus State; Conscience versus Law; Moral or Divine Law versus Human Law, Fidelity, pride and the danger of totalitarianism. These themes make constant the Antigone in terms of how relevant it is to audiences of all times, as they represent some of the basic challenges faced by human race.


Fate as a theme is predominantly outstanding in Antigone for the reason that she is moved down from the House of Laius that is under a curse, which is mentioned in Antigone’s prequels Oedipus at Colonus and Oedipus the King. As per the curse the fate of the whole family is predesti9ned and all the members of the family are to die tragically. Antigone seemingly is aware of her fate and she states that “And suffering, which was [Oedipus’] destiny, is our punishment, too, the sentence passed on all his children” (Rosenfield, 2010). Her consciousness of the curse impacts on her character very much. The chorus in Antigone makes a comment on the deeds with a sense of apprehension, often suggesting or hinting at what will come about next. They by no means, however, have an express impact on the action (Rosenfield, 2010 pp.103).


Family as a theme is apparent in various ways than it can be realized at the first place. Most noticeably is the faithfulness of Antigone to Polynices, her brother. It is around their relationship that the story is set. However, the play has many other family relationships to look at. There is the relationship between Creon and his son Haemon who is his son. Haemon is in love with Antigone, and this is why he invests in the results of Creon’s actions. The two gets into a heated argument where haemon makes threats about taking away his life id Creon engages Antigone’s. It is only when Haemon learns of the death of Creon that he breaks down and gets into terms with the mistakes of his ways. The other family relationship is that between Antigone and her sister, Ismene. In the first scene that is between the two Antigone request Ismene to lend her a hand in burying Polynices, but Ismene is annoyed and refuses to help her. Turning on her Antigone states that she will do it by herself. In the next scene that they are together, with Creon, Ismene makes efforts to take the responsibility for the burial, but Antigone turns down her endeavor. This shows a strained relationship between the two sisters. The other relationship in the play is that shared by Creon and Ismene, Antigone, Polynices and Eteocles. Creaon happens to be the uncle to the other 4 characters and also their king. Putting into consideration the strong family loyalty of Antigone, her anger towards Creon is partially because of the noticeable lack of this devotion.


The theme of citizenship becomes clear when there is a values clash between Antigone and Creon. Creon gives the definition of a citizenship as the highest obedience to the resolution of a country and it is for this reason that she criticizes Antigone to death when he feels that she has discarded her nationality by going against him. Antigone leaves a room for individualism in the context of the role of a citizen. However, the debate over citizenship goes further than the debate between Antigone and Creon. The announcement of Creon to go away and leave Polyneices unburied makes a clear expression on what is the meaning of being a citizen and what it entails to abdicate citizenship.

The custom of Greek firmly affirmed that each city should take care of the burial of its citizens. Herodotus gets to discuss how people from every city would bring together their own dead following a large fight to lay them to rest. Unlike the Persians who would not collect their dead to go and bury, Greeks regarded burial as a sign acknowledging affiliation and citizenship. In the play, Antigone, it is thus natural that the people of Thebes failed to bury the Argives, but what strikes most is that Creon barred the entombment of Polyneices. Because he was a citizen of Thebes, it would have been expected for the Thebans to bury his remains. Creon tells his fellow citizens that Polyneices has deviated from their ways of doing things, therefore they are forbidden from handling him as one of their own and therefore burying him as is the tradition for citizens.

By barring the citizens of Thebes from burying the remains of Polyneices, Creon is fundamentally considering him as any other attacker from the foreign Argives. For Creon, the verity that Polyneices have brought the city under attack, in effect invalidates his citizenship and he is now considered as a foreigner. According to the definition of this decree, citizenship is dependent on one’s loyalty. It is canceled when Polyneices commits what Creon considers as treason. When pitted against Antigone's view, this understanding of citizenship creates a new alignment of disagreement. Antigone denies not that Polyneices has deceived the state. However, she just takes it as if this unfaithfulness does not deprive him of the association that he would have had in any other case with the city. On the other hand, Creon thinks that citizenship is a contract which is not absolute or unchallengeable, and one that can be lost in given circumstances. These two contrasting views- that citizenship is absolute or unchallengeable and on the other hand that citizenship is founded on certain manners are respectively refereed to as citizenship 'by nature' and citizenship 'by law’ (Else, 1976. pp.43).


Antigone's gender has insightful effects on the significance of her dealings. Creon himself argues that that the want to overpower her is all the more imperative for the reason that she is a woman. Greek women had extremely limited freedom. The rules and strictures placed on them were huge even for the prehistoric world. Antigone's revolt is particularly threatening for the reason that it upsets gender roles and chain of command. Her refusal to remain passive completely changes one of the basic rules of her background. Ismene is Antigone's ‘throw a monkey wrench in the works’ since she is totally intimidated by the rule of men and thinks that women should be submissive to them or risk sustaining their wrath. She sys that and cites it as a major reason why they should be obeyed. Eventually, however, we distinguish that she has simply bought into the problematical perceptions that Creon supports, for even when Creon recognizes he may be in the wrong, he shifts his argument, stating that even if he were wrong, he couldn't acknowledge defeat to a woman, for doing so would displease divine commandment even more than backpedalling on his principles. It is this basic falsehood that Sophocles' play seeks out to correct, mostly through the chastisement that the Gods impose on Creon as a consequence of his thick headedness, misogynistic way of thinking (Segal, 1999).

Individual versus State; Conscience versus Law; Moral or Divine Law versus Human Law

These three are very much related, but this unsophisticated set of pairings assists in untangling various central issues in the play. Antigone and her principles are in line with the first entity in every pair, whereas Creon and his principles are in line with the second. Antigone keeps on to being a dissident and influential play, and the encouragement for generation of dissidents and rebels. A version of the play Antigone rewritten in the Second World War was one of the most influential texts of opposition against the Nazis. The disagreement between the personality and the supremacy of the state was as burning for Greek audiences as it is to contemporary audiences. Antigone is a hazard to the status quo; she calls upon the divine law as justification of her actions, but embedded in her believe is faith in the discriminating power of her personal principles. She gives up her life out of dedication to principles superior than the law of humans. Creon makes a blunder to sentence her-and his blunder is damned, in turn, by the gods-but his decision is a reasonable one. In the wake of confrontation, and with his supremacy so new, Creon has to institute his authority as ultimate. On the other hand, his desire to overpower Antigone gives the impression that it is sometimes exceptionally personal. At risk is not only the order of the state, but his delight and sense of himself as a ruler and, more deeply, a man (Rosenfield, 2010 pp. 121).


The determination of Antigone to bury Polynices is as a result of a longing to bring respect to her family, not only to the gods. Repeatedly she declares that she ought to do something to please "those that are dead" (An. 77), for the reason that they hold more influence than any leader. In the first scene, she emotionally appeals to her sister Ismene by telling her that they ought to look after their brother out of sisterly adoration, even if he was disloyal to their state. She makes only some references to the gods, and so it is very straightforward to deduce much of her way of thinking for her reverence to higher laws as those referencing decrees of family respect, not godly laws.

While Creon rejects Antigone's dealings founded on family respect, he seemingly as well places value to family as well. It is in this respect that Creon and Antigone's values seem to align. When addressing Haemon, Creon orders him not only to be obedient as a citizen but also to obey him as a son. Creon even goes ahead as to sate that "everything else shall be second to your father's decision" ("An." 640-641). This position seems farthest, particularly in light of the truth that Creon somewhere else advocates conformity to the state above anything else. While it is not apparent how he would take care of the two conflicting values, it is apparent that even for Creon, family takes a high place if not an elevated one than the state (Steiner, 1984).


In the context of Antigone pride is a characteristic that is despised by the gods and penalizes with no mercy. In Antigone, Sophocles explains the form of pride that makes men come up with laws that surrogate for divine values. When Creon comes up with a law for the reason that he believes it is the will of divine, is the ultimate show of pride that is punishable, for there is no man who can come up with a law that is equal or one that is above the right of divine. As a result of this, when Tiresias breaks the news that Creon will suffer, Creon become conscious of the terrible mistakes he has made, and yet still repudiates to confess it, giving in to the prophet's message only for the reason that he wants to maintain his life, not for the reason that he knows he's gone any far. Consequently, he must experience the loss of his family unit (Steiner, 1984).

The danger of totalitarianism

Athenians, and mostly Thebans, were susceptible to the thought of a dictatorship and the difference between a capable leader and a cruel tyrant. Creon is in various ways an understanding personality, although he misuses his power delicately – for the most part by pronouncing man's law as a result of divine will. His are not as a result of his lust for power, for he habitually has dignified intentions. He is absolutely devoted to the state, but is subject to the weaknesses of humans and meager judgment. Definitely, at the earlier scenes of the play he often comments on his aspiration to do what's finest for Thebes and for this reason he wins the self-assurance of both Haemon and the Chorus of Elders, who say that they will support his endeavors if that is his aspirations. Although he goes on to reprise this premise, Creon is noticeably more concerned with upholding particular values of decrees rather than the good of the city. When he is faced with an option that would safeguard 'tradition' or his own understanding of the rule of law against a further progressive approach that does not go after precedent but noticeably benefits Thebans, he settles for the former (Steiner, 1984).