Thus Antigone is mainly a play about the perennial human conflict between the thirst for expression and the wrath of the state for defying submission. Although the story of Antigone is part of the Oedipus legend on the curse on the house of Labdacus, like all true literature it transforms itself into our own story, our own curse.
The character of Antigone reminds one of Emerson's famous dictum: Trust thyself. Every heart vibrates to that iron spring. Or, more appropriately: To be great is to be misunderstood. She is a sensible, resolute character. Her resolve is her strongest muscle. The decision to bury her brother is not born out of contemplation or debate, but out of sheer self-knowledge that the burial shall be done come what may. The entire play revolves around this fatal decision and how each of the characters respond to it also reveals their own philosophy of life. Antigone's iron will is contrasted with the submissive nature of Ismene, her sister. While Ismene is all obedience to the state and wants to lead a normal life, Antigone is always doubtful of dreadful normalcy. She admires her sister both for her complacency and compliance. She is even jealous of her womanly features that make Ismene fell men. May be it is the combination of fragility and resilience that defines Antigone as a woman of all times. Audiences have likened her to Joan of Arc, as another figure of French Resistance. She, like Joan, is alone in her fight against state power. The mix of politics, relationships, morality and religion brings a sense of poignant pathos to her mission.
The character of Antigone comes out best in her confrontation with King Creon. This is not a battle of a subject with its ruler. It is a battle of wits between the resourcefulness of a woman and the mediocrity of the state. Creon advises her to be obedient because she too happens to be the daughter of a king. He persuades her to marry, have children and lead a good life. Creon uses several strategies to dissuade Antigone from disobedience. Antigone's arguments born on the premise that she was conceived to love and not to hate disarms the king. Her act of defiance - the burial of her brother who has been declared the enemy of the state - invites punishment of live entombment. She accepts penalty with the same smile that she had when she buried her brother. When her lover too joins her in the tomb she is neither hopeful nor ecstatic. Antigone is the very opposite of the melodramatic heroine. Her death and its aftermath teach us more than any history of proper conduct.
King Creon is Antigone's uncle. His main concern is the rule of the state. He does not understand the power of intellectual resistance. There are several instances in the play when he confesses the drudgery of administration and laments how heavily the throne sits on him. There are also streaks of compassion in the king. His pleadings with Antigone and the instinctual shock on hearing the death of his son and the queen are all proofs of the human traits lying dormant in the poor ruler. But the tragedy is that Creon considers his kingship above all and