How does Antigone justify her disobedience?

Antigone justifies her disobedience by asserting that divine law is higher than the laws humans pass. She will not violate her conscience and go against divine law by refusing to bury her brother.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Creon has decreed that anyone who buries Polynices will be subject to death. He wants his rebellious nephew's rotting, bird-eaten corpse to serve as a reminder to the people of what happens to those who oppose the king.

Antigone, Polynices's sister, defies Creon by staging a proper burial for Polynices, sprinkling dirt over the exposed corpse. She justifies this as the will of the gods. Divine and moral law is higher than the laws of the state, she asserts.

The key point the play is making is that Antigone has done the right thing in disobeying an immoral law. The laws humans make should not oppose divine laws. In ancient Greek culture, dishonoring a person by not affording them a proper burial was a serious sin.

Antigone is often used as a symbol of political resistance against a corrupt state. She had the courage to stand by her beliefs, even if the price was her life.

Even Creon is brought about to see the folly of what he has done in condemning Antigone for obeying her conscience after Tiresias tells him the Furies will take vengeance if he does not lift the death penalty on his niece. He does so, but unfortunately, he is too late, as she has hanged herself.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial