What kind of life does Sophocles seem to advocate in the play?

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gpane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sophocles appears to be advocating a life which has some measure of restraint and balance. Antigone and her main antagonist, Creon, do not act like this. They go to extremes in pursuing their ideas; Antigone obsessed with family duties, Creon preoccupied with state affairs. Sophocles is not saying that they should not hold these ideals, and allows them both to make their respective cases fully, but he seems to be saying that they should not go as far as they do; they both bring destruction upon themselves, and also hurt others. It is true that Creon ends up being punished more, and he might appear to be more at fault than Antigone, as he exercises ruthless power in sentencing her to be buried alive, but it is notable that no-one in the play really praises Antigone's actions either.  If Sophocles really meant to show that Antigone was, after all, completely right, this is a strange omission. 

In fact, what happens to Creon and Antigone is a good illustration of the old adage: it is better to bend than to break. In the course of life, one should certainly have ideals, but one should also be prepared to compromise, rather than remain rigidly inflexible all the time.