I need help coming up with a more refined thesis for the play Antigone by Sophocles. My original thesis was that Sophocles used the characters Antigone and Creon to advance the theme of individual rights vs. power of the state. My professor indicated I needed a more refined thesis statement. Now I'm completely lost as to what to write about. Would writing about religious law vs that of state law be better? Any advice is appreciated.
I can understand what you are feeling. I can also see your professor's point of view. Good papers have specific thesis statements. Moreover, the conflict between individual rights and power of the state has been done already many times.
For an alternative thesis how about something in religion - like the hubris of Creon. If you go with this thesis, you can argue that leadership leads to hubris, blindness, and divine judgment.
In the play, Creon orders that Polyneices should not be buried. Within the context of the ancient world this was a great taboo and impiety for all. This is why Teiresias tells Creon of the anger of the gods in view of his decision. The gods reject the prayers and sacrifices of the Thebans - something reminiscent of Oedipus, when he, too, was filled with pride, and by this also harmed Thebes. Teiresias also states that the furies will get angry.
What makes the hubris of Creon even greater is that he punishes Antigone with being buried alive. Here is what Teiresias says:
"You have dishonored a living soul with exile in the tomb,
hurling a member of this world below.
You are detaining here, moreover
a dead body, unsanctified, and so unholy,
a subject of the nether-gods.''
In a word, the gods are angered at Creon's decisions.