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Plot Summary of Antigone (Sophocles) - Part III

Article Index
Plot Summary of Antigone (Sophocles)
Plot Summary of Antigone Part II
Plot Summary of Antigone Part III
Plot Summary of Antigone Part IV
Literary Analysis of Antigone
Academic Sources for Further Study

Plot Summary of Antigone by Sophocles : Scene 3

Antigone is dragged onstage by the guards, including Jonas. She is resisting being dragged, and has apparently been resisting all the way. She says that as a dignified princess, she is capable of going quietly if they would unhand her, but the guards don’t believe her for a minute. Another guard mentions in passing that they had arrested another woman of similar temperament the other day. While dragging Antigone across the stage, the guards get into an involved discussion about how they will celebrate their anticipated reward. Creon enters, and realizes the prisoner that has been announced for questioning in his court is none other than his own niece and soon-to-be daughter-in-law. The guards tell him that they had caught her trying to re-bury Polynices, and Creon dismisses them.

An argument ensues between Antigone and Creon. Creon, always trying to avoid confrontation, starts out by being as patient as he can. He tries to play it off as a mistake and tells Antigone that if she stops, he will spare her. Antigone will not be moved. Creon tells her that she is being too lofty and proud, saying “The pride of Oedipus. You are its living image” (108). He goes on to say that she would be happier if she was like him, who claims to be humble and does only what will not cause trouble. “My name’s only Creon, thank God. I’ve got both feet on the ground and both hands in my pockets,” (109) he boasts. Antigone will not be moved.

At this point in the plot of Antigone, Creon makes his true feelings about important rituals of burial known and in front of Antigone, he trivializes the burial rites, saying that they mean nothing with the state of religious services these days. He tells Antigone that she is risking her life for nothing, but this argument does not sway Antigone; she will not be moved. Creon then tells Antigone about how when she was little, Polynices was nothing but a spoiled, irresponsible drunkard and gambler, who once struck his father out of spite. Finally, he tells her that one of the brothers had been given a proper funeral, yes, but neither one was recognizable after the battle and it could be either of them. Antigone is disillusioned, but still will not be moved. Ismene is brought in, having been arrested as well. She has now gathered her resolve to bury Polynices as well. They are both dragged offstage.

Plot Summary of Antigone by Sophocles : Scene 4

Haemon and the chorus enter, and the chorus is now interacting with Creon, playing his conscious. No longer fatalist, the chorus is now pleading with him for Antigone’s life along with Haemon. They go through different options that they could try in order to restore public confidence now that everyone knows what Antigone has done. But Creon absolutely cannot see a way out of it. Haemon laments Creon’s fall from the strong hero he once knew, now simply content to do whatever it takes to survive, without any principles. He asks Creon if all his heroism early in life was “to becoming a man, as you call it- a man who’s supposed to consider himself lucky just to be alive?” (127) Haemon exits in a fit of despair for both Antigone’s life and his father’s manhood. A guard enters and announces that an angry mob has entered the palace, enraged by Antigone’s burial of a supposed traitor. Creon exits.