What is the significance of symbolism in Antigone and how does each symbol relate to its themes?

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One symbol is the way in which Creon chooses to punish Antigone. Creon sentences Antigone to be buried alive in a cave. This is significant because Antigone has been trying to give her brother his funeral rights for the entire play, but now she herself is put in the ground. Ironically, Creon will not allow the dead to be buried but punishes Antigone by burying her alive. This punishment is symbolic of the perversion of justice that has taken place. In his original decree, Creon said that any person who disobeyed his decree would be publicly stoned, but he changes the punishment for Antigone to a much more private death that mirrors what she has been trying to do for her brother. When Creon realizes his error and recognizes that he has been going against the will of the gods by leaving the dead unburied, he rushes to dig Antigone out of the cave. However, it is too late and she is already dead. Ironically, Creon has been wrongfully uncovering Polynices each time Antigone tries to bury him. He finally gives the order to bury Polynices and uncover Antigone at the end, but his change of heart comes too late.

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