Like all Sophocles's plays, Antigone was written to be performed at a public festival in Athens, where his audience would be purely male. Despite this, he draws upon Greek legend to create a play where the titular character and clear hero is a young, as-yet-unmarried woman. Antigone is thus the most powerless sort of person in Athens, yet she stands firm against the most powerful person—Creon, the king.
Sophocles is able to use this contrast to make a point about the limits of power and authority. Creon repeatedly claims more or less absolute power, saying things like, "The man the city sets up in authority / must be obeyed in small things and in just / but also in their opposites" and "Is not the city thought to be the ruler's?" In contrast to Creon's excessive claims of his human authority, Antigone reminds him of the superior claims of religious obligation, saying "It is not for him [i.e., Creon] to keep me from my own [i.e., from burying her brother]" and "I shall be a criminal—but a religious one" (David Grene translation).
Contrasted with Antigone is her sister Ismene, who is afraid to flout authority. By the play's end, everyone agrees that Antigone is right: Ismene (who disappears after Antigone rejects her attempt to be punished with her), Haemon (Creon's son and Antigone's fiancé), the Chorus, and even Creon. Thus Sophocles gives us two women, one weak and timid, one strong and bold, and he uses them to give us a tragic drama that shows us certain things about the limits of power.