Steeped in family drama, death, politics, and religion, Sophocles’ Antigone is a complex tragedy to say the least. The basic plot of the tragedy is the conflict between Antigone’s family principles and religious tradition and Creon’s embodiment of state and its authority (Scodel). It is on of three tragedies written by Sophocles that chronicle the life of Oedipus. It was written before Oedipus the King, but is a culmination of the events that occurred after Oedipus’ death (Norton 610). Antigone’s brothers, Eteocles and Polynices had battled over the throne of Thebes, resulting in the death of both (Lawall). To show his disdain for the treasonous acts of Polynices, Creon passes a decree against his burial:
…a proclamation has forbidden the city
to dignify him with burial, mourn him at all.
No, he must be left unburied, his corpse
carrion for the birds and dogs to tear,
an obscenity for the citizens to behold! (227-231)
He wants to make an example of Polynices, not only to show the fate of traitors but also to show his power. The central conflict of the play is based on Creon’s refusal to bury Polynices and Antigone’s refusal to follow his orders (Scodel). He goes against tradition with this decision, he is driven by the power of his position and does not want to appear weak to the people. This cruel judgment against burial rights for Polynices and the blatant disrespect for tradition tends to gain sympathy for Antigone, girl who has been through so much in her young life already. The resulting events of Creon’s judgment and the Antigone’s actions that follow become the source of one of literatures most well known Greek tragedies, Sophocles’ Antigone.
There are many stories throughout time that have sad endings, but few compare to the tragic ending of Sophocles’ Antigone. Imagine being a young girl and with your world turned upside down by events that are completely out of your control. Oxford defines a tragedy as a play or other literary work of a serious or sorrowful character, with a fatal or disastrous conclusion. Antigone is a tragedy in the true sense of the word. “Tragic excess can lead a human subject across his or her mortal limits, beyond the possible and into the terrain of the impossible” (qtd. in Robert). Antigone had a lot to deal with during her life, the majority of her issues stem from problems within her family. Antigone’s life is doomed from conception, but she somehow finds the courage to stand up for what she believes in. She takes a stand against authority, not because she is inherently defiant, but because of she feels she has an obligation to her family and the gods. Should Antigone be a role model for standing up to Creon? Would compromising her values be more of a spiritual death to her than the physical death she was facing? Looking into Antigone’s family, culture, and religious beliefs is vital in seeing the magnitude of the tragedy; it gives a clear picture of her strength of character and a better perceptive of...