Summary of Antigone Following is a summary of Sophocles’ Antigone. Polyneices and Eteocles were two brothers on opposite sides in Thebes' civil war, which were both killed in battle. Creon, new ruler of Thebes, declared Eteocles will be honored and Polyneices disgraced due to his rebellion against Creon. Antigone and Ismene are the sisters of the dead brothers. At the beginning of the play, Antigone brought Ismene outside the city gates at night for a secret meeting: Antigone wanted to bury Polyneices' body. Ismene refused to defy the king, and she failed to dissuade Antigone from doing the deed herself. Creon needed the support of the Chorus of Theban elders, and for his decision regarding Polyneices' body. A Sentry brought Antigone. She did not deny the truth. Creon grew angrier, and thought Ismene helped her. Ismene confessed falsely to the crime. Creon ordered the two women to be locked up. Haemon, Creon's son and Antigone's fiancé, pledged allegiance to his father. Initially, Haemon seemed willing to obey Creon, but when Haemon tried to persuade his father to spare Antigone, they end up in bickering. Haemon left, vowing to never see Creon again. Creon spared Ismene but to imprisoned Antigone in a cave. She defended her actions one last time. She was taken away and the Chorus lamented. Teiresias, the blind prophet, warned Creon that the gods favored Antigone. Creon accused Teiresias of corruption, and Teiresias tells Creon that his mistakes will cause him to lose one child for the crimes of leaving Polyneices unburied and killing Antigone. Greece will hate him, and the offerings of Thebes will be rejected bye the gods. The Chorus pleaded Creon to take their advice. He assented, and they told him that he should bury Polyneices and free Antigone. Creon agreed to do it, but a Messenger told Creon Haemon had killed himself. Eurydice, Creon's wife and Haemon's mother, was told everything by the Messenger. The Messenger reported that Haemon and Antigone have committed suicide. Eurydice committed suicide after hearing the news. Creon understood the consequences of his actions. A Second Messenger arrived to tell Creon and the Chorus that Eurydice had killed herself. With her last breath, she cursed her husband. Creon blamed himself for everything that had happened. The order he valued so much had been protected, and he wasstill the king, but he had acted against the gods and lost his child and his wife. The Chorus stated the gods punish the proud, but punishment brings wisdom. The major themes in Antigone are pride, individual versus state, conscience versus law, and moral or divine law versus human law. Pride and its effects are a central part of Antigone.
It was a trait despised by the gods, who brought suffering to the proud, but to the Greek mind pride was also an inextricable part of greatness. On one hand, Creon’s pride made him a tyrant. On the other, pride made Antigone heroic. Pride was a complex and multifaceted concept in Greek tragedy. Antigone and her values were due to her individualism, while Creon and his values were created for the state. Antigone continues to be a subversive and powerful play. A version of Antigone rewritten during the Second World War became a powerful text of resistance against the Nazis. The conflict between the individual and the power of the state was as pressing for Greek audiences as it is to modern one. She invoked divine law as defense of her actions, but faith guided her. She sacrificed her life out of devotion to principles higher than human law, which was part of why the Greek plays were created: to honor the gods and follow their advice. Creon made a mistake in sentencing her and was punished by the gods, but his position is an understandable one. In the wake of war, and with his reign sad to establish his authority. On the other hand, Creon's need to defeat Antigone seemed at times to be extremely personal. His pride, male ego and sense of king were often at stake. Athenians were sensitive to tyranny and the fine line between a strong leader and a brutal tyrant. Creon often abused his power. Creon often had noble intentions and was completely loyal to the state, but he is subject to human weakness and poor judgment. The fates of Antigone and Ismene were subject to the whims of a king who grants or withholds mercy and makes punishments that fancy him. This play makes one reevaluate what make people noble and what make them temporarily lose judgment. Sometimes one must break the rules to do the right thing. Antigone does this by defying Creon’s orders and burying her brother Polyneices. Sometimes one must follow the rules to do what is right. Creon let his pride control him. He did not follow the wishes of the gods and was therefore punished. Life is confusing and full of choices, like in Antigone. We must find the light of truth and justice amongst the chaos in life.