Instructions: What is the central conflict in Antigone? What is the message regarding the conflict between divine laws and man-made laws?.
The central conflict in Antigone is the conflict of "right vs. wrong." In "Antigone," by Sophocles, this conflict is presented when King Creon attempts to exert his power over the people in a manner contradictory to the divine laws of the gods. This tug-of-war places the central characters in a position where they must choose between following the man-made laws of King Creon or those established by their gods.
In "Antigone," an ongoing battle between brothers Eteocles and Polynices ultimately ends with their deaths. King Creon, their uncle, announced that he was denying Polynices' a proper burial because he was seen as an enemy of the state. He is firm and resolute on this because he wanted it to be known that he was a powerful ruler, and he was not to be questioned.
Antigone, his niece, is determined to give her brother, Polynices, a proper burial. Despite knowing that what she's doing is defying the rules of Creon, she is determined anyway. She believes her uncle, King Creon, only cares about his rule and power over the people, but she believes it is most important to please the gods and follow their divine laws. She believes that doing so will allow one to have a proper journey and existence in the afterlife. She ends up obeying the laws of the gods, and disregarding the man-made rules of her uncle, the King. As a result, Antigone is sentenced to death by live burial for defying his law. King Creon was setting an example and sending a clear message to the people that his rule is above divine laws of the gods.
After being pleaded with, Creon goes back to the cave where he sentenced his niece to die and finds Haemon there with her body limp in his arms. Antigone had hung herself. Out of pure rage and hatred for what Creon had done, Haemon charged Creon in an effort to kill him, but ended up killing himself accidentally instead.