Who is responsible for Antigone's death?

In Antigone, Creon had the greatest responsibility for Antigone's death. While both Creon and Antigone made their own choices and hold agency for those choices, it should be remembered that Antigone is, within the play, morally in the right. She is acting in proper piety to honor her obligations to the dead. Meanwhile, Creon's statute is unjust.

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In one sense, the play Antigone involves a battle of wills between Antigone and Creon. It is Antigone's choice to defy Creon's statute that forbids the burial of her deceased brother, even as she knows that death is the punishment proclaimed. Likewise, it is Creon's choice to pursue the execution of Antigone, even when his actions are widely condemned. In this sense, both sides have agency in the events that transpire. Neither was coerced to do anything against their will.

All the same, I think the far greater share of blame should rest with Creon, given that the statute itself was unjust to begin with. Remember, one of the critical components of the play is that Antigone is morally in the right. Seen from the perspective of Ancient Greek religion, she had a sacred obligation to see her brother's burial rites fulfilled, and (in the viewpoint of such a culture) obligations to the gods always trump the laws of any temporal authority.

In this sense, Creon also has the ability to turn back from his path at any time (and eventually, he does so, albeit at too late a point in time). He made the law and declared the punishment of death against Antigone. Thus, even if both Creon and Antigone did have some shared agency and did make their own contributions to Antigone's eventual death, far greater blame should be set with Creon. Antigone was acting in proper piety. Creon's actions were unjust.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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