The Role of The Individual in Sophocles' Antigone

The role of the individual is very important in Antigone. Both Protagonist and Antagonist are strong individuals believing the other wrong and himself/herself correct in action and reason. Throughout the play Creon and Antigone are in constant contention with one another leading to their ultimate destruction by the law. The lines between which is Protagonist and Antagonist are blurred. Usually the protagonist is the leading character and the antagonist is the opposing. The name of the book hints that Antigone is protagonist, however it is Creon who is the one being opposed. Antigone’s struggle to uphold her values in the fight between what is morally right and wrong is relevant to contemporary society.

Creon, Antigone’s Uncle and new regent of Thebes, has set a law that Antigone’s brother is not to be buried or mourned due to his treason against the state. Antigone opposes this law by ceremonially throwing dust upon her deceased brothers’ remains, breaking Theban law. She is unwilling to dishonor her brother in death no matter what it will cost her, in this case it is her very life she must give up. Her acts of compassion are seen as rebellious and brave, whispered about amongst scared Thebans. When Creon sees that “such a brutal death for such a glorious action”(Drama A Pocket Anthology Fifth Edition Gwynn pg60) will only make her a martyr, he struggles to amend his ruling so that she may live instead as a prisoner. “Sometimes viewed as a tyrannical figure whose single-minded determination clouds his better judgment, Creon resolutely defends the ideal of civic duty and the rule of law in making his decree. The regent’s calculating self-interest, egotism, and near complete failure to understand the workings of love, however, contrast with the piety of his niece, whose sensitivity to the unwritten laws of the gods and awareness of philia (love, kinship, and affection) are two of her defining characteristics. Both characters are strong willed however and to match this next action Antigone takes her life. From the beginning she is set to die. Antigone chooses her fate, knowing that this path will only lead to her death and determined to join her brothers in the afterlife. But is it really fate that she must die, or truly the outcome of her own free will?

What is fate and how does it compare to free will? To begin, fate is what the universe has planned ahead of time to happen, all roads will lead on to that specific time or moment that is one’s fate. It is inescapable, whether it be blessing or curse. Free will however, is the act of decision. When one chooses an action that leads to multiple consequences and outcomes that are unknown and unplanned. The universe plays no part and all is left up to chance, circumstances thus allowing the act of free will; decisions which are otherwise unhindered by outside sources such as fate. Antigone is a work that challenges the reader to question the differences between fate and free will. Creon believes that every decision he has made is of his own free will, however it would seem Antigone is destined to die despite what choices he makes. It is her free will to die, and so it is his fate. Her determination is his doom, for we he can do what he will but cannot will what he wants. Sophocles Antigone presses the boundaries between fate and freewill, demonstrating that there may be a balance between the two; what is fate for another is the opposite to someone else. Choices are made by individuals everyday, each having an outcome unique to its own situation, affecting the lives of others like those of the ripples in water. Make one ring and it turns into many.

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The Role of The Individual in Sophocles' Antigone. (2022, Sep 29). Retrieved February 23, 2024 , from

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