In Antigone, how can the resolution of the play's conflict best be summarized?

1 Answer | Add Yours

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Creon suffers for his hubris, much like Oedipus suffered in the first play in this trilogy. When Creon finds Haimon weeping over Antigone's dead body, Haimon lunges at Creon then turns his sword upon himself. 

The queen, Eurydice, is aware of the tragedy and the death of her son when Creon enters bearing Haimon's body. She too commits suicide leaving Creon completely bereft.

Finally, Creon has come to understand the warnings given to him by Tiresias and he discovers that his pride led to his own son's death. He is humbled and no longer needs to hear the wisdom of others because he has learned it himself through loss. 

"Nothing you say can touch me anymore. 

My own blind heart has brought me 

From darkness to final darkness. Here you see

The father murdering, the murdered son --

And all my civic wisdom!"

The conflict of the story is essentially one of allegiance. Antigone claims that the best path is to align oneself with the gods, despite and even against the dictates of the state. Creon takes the opposite position and argues that allegiance to the state should take preeminence over fulfilling the rites of the gods. 

Notably, Creon's allegiance to the state is closely related to an assertion of his own power as king. In a way, he puts his love of power and his sense of authority above his reverence for the gods. 

The final stanza of the play articulates the play's resolution in these terms exactly. 

"There is no happiness where there is no wisdom; 
No wisdom but in submission to the gods."

Thus the conceptual conflict between Antigone's position (vis a vis the rites of the gods) and Creon's position (vis a vis the authority of the state) is resolved when Creon recognizes the folly of standing against the divine order. 

Again, this is very much akin to the central thematic conflict in Oedipus Rex, wherein Oedipus seeks to escape a fate that has been ordained for him. His tragedy is driven by his belief in his own power to overcome the will of the gods. His blindness to the truth, in this Greek context, is given metaphor when he stabs out his eyes. Creon too realizes that he has been blind to the same truth.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,982 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question