© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



by Sophocles

Tools of Characterization

Character Analysis


Because Antigone is a play, Sophocles relies most heavily on action to characterize the players. Antigone, for example, demonstrates loyalty and devotion to her family and the gods by burying her brother... even though it's against the law.


Dialogue is an extremely important means of characterization in Antigone because, as a play, the thoughts and opinions of characters are conveyed largely through speech. Creon is portrayed as arrogant because of the tone he uses when speaking to the prophet Teiresias. Antigone is depicted as strong and willful when she argues with Creon. The way in which characters speak (such as meekly or authoritatively) reflects both their status and confidence.

Whimsical and Reflective: The Chorus

The Chorus tends to muse over broad topics such as human nature, life and death. It speaks with a reflective and sometimes a foreboding tone.

Authoritative: Creon, Antigone, Teiresias

Most of the central characters in Antigone are determined and strong, and their strength is reflected in their use of authoritative language.

Intimidated, Shy, and Indecisive: Messengers, Ismene

A few characters stand out for speaking less authoritatively than others. Intimidated by strong characters such as Creon, the messengers and the shepherd speak very cautiously. Ismene’s frailty, too, is reflected in her indecisive speech, especially in contrast to Antigone.

Direct Characterization

The qualities of each player are further explored by the commentary of the Chorus. The two halves of the Chorus, the Strophe and Antistrophe, for example, debate the strengths and weaknesses of Oedipus and Creon and by doing so, highlight characteristics of the two kings.