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by Sophocles

Analysis: Plot Analysis

Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

Initial Situation

Antigone arrives in Thebes and finds that her brothers are dead, Polyneices’s dead body is unburied, and there is a royal edict against burying him.

This is what’s up at the beginning of the book. We even have a little bit of conflict right off the bat.


Antigone wants to bury Polyneices even though it is against the law and asks Ismene for help. Ismene refuses.

Antigone discovers that if she’s going to bury her brother, she’s going to have to go it alone.


Antigone buries Polyneices, but is caught and brought to Creon. Antigone challenges Creon’s decision and moral authority to prohibit the burial.

Antigone’s situation gets worse. (You weren’t supposed to disagree with the King. Ever.)


Creon sentences Antigone to death and locks her away.

We told you you’re not supposed to argue with the King. Antigone’s fate is sealed.


Haemon, Teiresias, and the Chorus all plead with Creon to let Antigone go.

Although Antigone seems destined to die, there is hope again that she will be released.


Creon decides, grudgingly, to release Antigone.

Creon’s reversal of his decision offers final hope to Antigone.


When Creon arrives to release Antigone, he finds that she, Haemon, and his wife have all killed themselves.

Creon’s decision came too late. The play ends.

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