Analyzing Antigone: The Dilemma Between The Divine and Secular Belief

Antigone Literary & Critical Analysis

The Antigone tragedy written by Sophocles is one of the best examples depicting people’s relations with other humans and the role of law. Written more than 2,400 years ago, the play is relevant today as it was then.


In Western plays, Antigone is described as a heroine and a martyr. She forsook her responsibilities to society for the sake of the dead.


She is both willfully stubborn and would rather die for the sake of religion rather than the state. Her stubbornness causes the death of other innocent people in the process.


When Was The Play Written?

The Antigone literary work might have been written about 441 BC or 442 BC. The Greek tragedian wrote over 120 plays throughout his life. His other surviving works include Women of Trachis and Oedipus Rex.


Antigone was the daughter of Oedipus and sister to Ismene, Polynices, and Eteocles. Antigone is one of Sophocles’ earliest literary works, written at a time when he had just risen to power.


Additional Literature on Antigone

One of the tasks given in college is writing a critical analysis essay. Regardless of the subjects different students are studying, writing requires deep research. The student must strictly follow the prompt given by school teachers to succeed in this type of analysis.


Success can come from reading paper samples to get ideas on topics and arguments to use. This is especially important to learners who want to complete their education while studying online. By reading the researched essays on Antigone, they will get an idea of where to start.


The essay examples help make the analysis process and writing easier. You also can discover other people’s thoughts on this story and make parallels with your research.


Antigone Main Plot

The main plot of the story revolves around the family of Oedipus. The main character is Antigone, who is always against the opinions of others. During a war with the Argos army, Oedipus’s sons Polynices and Eteocles die. Their uncle Creon becomes the King of Thebes. He orders Polynices not to be given a proper burial.


Antigone and her sister Ismene go through a time of grieving. At the same time, Antigone defies Creon and is determined to bury her brother. She stands by the unwritten laws of the gods.


She believes they are superior to any other law given by man. Against her sister’s advice, she insists she will give her brother a proper burial. Creon stands by the laws of the land. He orders Antigone to be locked in a tomb alive.


She hangs herself, but her death causes the death of several other people. Haemon and his mother, Eurydice, commit suicide.


Antigone Critical Analysis

Although the play was written more than 2,400 years ago, the author’s idea remains relevant to date. The play explores conflicting moral issues between Antigone and Creon.


Their conflict is not based on right and wrong but on right and right. Creon is right about the laws of the land, just as Antigone is right about the laws of the gods.


The play analysis starts with a fierce battle over who should rule in Thebes. This is what leads to the death of Polynices and Eteocles. Creon takes advantage of their death and takes over the throne.


He immediately issues a decree to end the civil war. He issues a further decree that brands Polynices a traitor and Eteocles a loyal soldier. Dogs and birds should be left to devour Polynice’s body while Eteocles receives a proper burial.


The Battle Between Divine and Secular Law

Antigone chooses to obey the divine law, while Creon chooses to obey the secular law. She is determined to bury her brother, but Creon is determined to obey the laws of Thebes.


This is where the greatest law battles ensue between Antigone and her uncle Creon. It is a battle between two opposing laws and duties. The battle is between divine laws and secular laws.


The divine dictates the proper burial of the dead, while secular law dictates the restoration of civic order. Creon has to choose between allegiance to family and his public duty to the law.


The “Antigone” tragedy critical analysis has a lot of relevance in today’s society. The play is still live and popular in modern society.


Divine laws are still deep-rooted today, which often causes conflict with the secular. Religious groups often defy the government and go against the democratic voice.


Gender equality issues are prevalent today, just like in Antigone’s days. She shows how a lot of women suffer under male authorities.


Sophocles’ Greatest Achievements

Sophocles wrote more than 120 plays, but Antigone is one of his greatest achievements. It is also one of his most influential plays ever staged.


According to George Steiner, the play was trending in Europe between 1970 and 1905. Many European philosophers and poets held it in high regard. To them, it was nearly the perfect work ever created by a human being. One of its themes is the conflict between an individual and authority. This theme has resonated in each generation throughout history.


Changing Cultural and Moral Imperatives

Within Western plays, Antigone is described as a heroine. Some critics describe her as a martyr to conscience. Still, others describe her as stubborn to law and willfully causing her death. Her stubbornness caused the death of several other innocent souls.


There are a large number of Creon’s critics and Antigone’s sympathizers. Unfortunately, they are too afraid to speak lest they face the same fate.


Some critics cite Creon as the problem due to his abuse of authority and human life. He deliberately violated his obligations to family, the divine, and rationalism.


Although the play is titled Antigone, the dramatic tragedy was caused by Creon and not Antigone. Creon can be regarded as a hypocritical tyrant, while Antigone is an innocent victim.



The Antigone play opens with a battle between opposing armies. What happens next is what we have read above. Actually, there is no one answer to the question who was right and who was wrong, it is open to interpretation.


People usually side with what matches their opinion and what seems to be right to them.


Disclaimer: Fully supported by its users, TangoLearn earns a commission every time you make a purchase via our site. This does not influence the price you pay nor it affects our ratings, course selection methodology or partners.