Conflict in Sophocles’ “Antigone”: Struggling Morality and Defying Authority

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Antigone’s Moral Dilemma

Many people would choose to follow what they believe is right regardless of the consequences. Stealing is a crime that is against the laws just about everywhere but would be an option for many people who are struggling. Stealing is legally and ethically wrong, but if your family is starving, it may be morally justified. Sophocles’ Antigone is a Greek play that covers many different themes and connects with different social issues. Antigone is about a woman who stands up for what she believes in and, in doing so, defies the rules that the king has set in place.

Loyalty vs. Law

She has two conflicting problems throughout the play; defending her brother’s honor and doing what the law says to do. The law had stated that anyone that touched Polyneices body would be sentenced to death. During the first part of the play, Antigone is set on giving her brother the burial he deserves, even though Ismene told her to obey the law. Ismene said, “I’m forced, I have no choice—I must obey the ones who stand in power.”

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Morality vs. Political Laws

Antigone contradicts political laws to perform acts that are moral to her for the sake of her dead brother, Polyneices. Morality is defined as beliefs pertaining to the differences between right and wrong or good and bad. The rules of morality are not mandatory but are beliefs. Laws are different because they are the rules a country or community makes its people follow in order to maintain society. These may end up contradicting each other with individuals.

Historical Perspective on Moral Conflict

The conflicts between the two laws are still seen thousands of years later. The political law should be made according to morals, and this conflict wouldn’t be an issue. At one point in time, the Nazis ruled over Germany. Nazi Germany had no morality in the laws they had passed. They would discriminate, imprison, and murder people just because of their color, mental disorder, religion, or sexual preference. They made their judgments according to how they felt about certain groups of people and not according to morals and how people act. This meant that one had to have strength in their own belief and go against the discriminatory laws. But many common people followed the laws that were passed out because of the fear of being punished. In Antigone, Ismene is a part of the common people, having a hard time deciding which law to follow.


  1. Sophocles. “Antigone.”
  2. Merriam-Webster. “Morality.” Dictionary.
  3. Merriam-Webster. “Law.” Dictionary.

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Conflict in Sophocles' "Antigone": Struggling Morality and Defying Authority. (2023, Aug 11). Retrieved from

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