What is symbolic about the way Antigone dies in Antigone by Sophocles? 

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There seems to be something of a motif of entombment running through this play. Firstly, there is the central irony of Antigone being entombed alive, when what started the conflict in the play in the first place was Creon's inability to entomb Polyneices, Antigone's brother, as he should have. Creon seems to want to entomb those who are alive rather than those who are dead. What is also significant about Antigone's fate is the way that she refers to the tomb:

Oh tomb, my bridal-bed--my house, my prison

cut in the hollow rock, my everlasting watch!

I'll soon be there, soon embrace my own,

the great growing family of our dead

Perspephone has received among her ghosts.

For Antigone therefore, she seems to sense that the tomb will be a place not of tragedy in some ways, but even her "bridal-bed," as it will represent her unification with her lover and also the rest of her dead family. This is something that she greatly looks forward to as she thinks about the prospect of her entombment and joins the "great growing family of our dead" who are now in the underworld, having died. The symbol of the entombment therefore works on a number of different levels in the text to both highlight Creon's mistake in the play but also to demonstrate Antigone's thoughts and feelings about death. 


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