Examine the significance of the conflicts between characters  in their contribution to thematic development in Antigone by Sophocles.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The original question had to be edited down.  I think that Sophocles' strength in Antigone is how the conflicts between characters embodied the fundamental notion of thematic development in the drama.  Sophocles makes it clear that themes underscore characterizations.  The characters in dramas become more understandable when they represent specific themes.  This becomes true in Antigone.  The conflict between Creon and Antigone represents the conflict between the law of temporality and the perceived transcendental notion of law. This is something that will underscore so much of social change in the human predicament.  At some point, all social movements have been embodied by this collision.  Antigone recognizes that her own calling for justice is going to fly in the face of Creon's rule.  For his part, Creon realizes that his own sense of power and control does little to dissuade Antigone from her pursuit.  In both of them the collision between justice and the law becomes evident.  The conflict between Antigone and Ismene is also significant.  This conflict represents the dueling conceptions of what it means to be a woman.  Ismene embodies the more traditional notion of woman that acquiesces to social standard and expectation.  Antigone represents the opposite, seeking to define what it means to be her as a woman in a manner that breaks boundaries.  Their conflict represents the thematic development of gender expectation.  Finally, I would suggest that the conflict between Creon and Haemon represents a theme of examining desire versus duty.  Creon's role as a political ruler is one that he sees as preventing him from embracing his role as a father, seeking to provide solace to his son.  This thematic collision is where challenge arises in his understanding of self as the drama continues.  In these, one sees how Sophocles uses the conflicts between characters as contributing and driving the thematic growth in Antigone.

Further Reading:
Read the study guide:

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question