Antigone: Antigone is both the daughter and the sister of Oedipus (since he married his own mother). Now that
Oedipus and his brothers are dead, Antigone and Ismene are the last of the Labdacus family. After her father
went into exile, Antigone and her sister were raised in the house of Creon. Her brothers Polyneices and Eteocles
were casualties in a brutal war for power, each brother dying by the other's hand. Creon has declared that
Eteocles will be honored with burial since he was a defender of Thebes, while Polyneices' body is left to the
vultures and dogs. It is this edict that drives Antigone to defy the state, since she believes her brother Polyneices
deserves the same treatment as Eteocles. Some critics see Antigone as too self-righteous, even alienating, but
others claim her as a seminal feminist, determined to do what is right even in defiance of patriarchal law. Indeed,
Antigone captured the public imagination immediately after the first performance of the play more than 2,500
years ago, as her deeds expanded the possibilities of human action, reconceived the role of women in society, and
delineated a new type of character, one who sets her individual conscience and belief in divine principle above
and against the power and authority of the state.
Ismene: Antigone's last surviving sibling, Ismene is the foil for her stronger sister. In comparison to Antigone she
has almost no agency, primarily because she is utterly terrified of disobeying men in power. She does not believe
that women should ever violate the laws of men, since they are stronger and deserve subservience. Ismene does
not help to bury Polyneices, but tries to claim responsibility for the burial later so that she can die with Antigone.
Antigone refuses her help and Ismene is spared. This reflects both her great love for her family and her place as a
symbol of the status quo who is rewarded for remembering her place.
Chorus of Theban Elders: The Chorus comments on the action and interacts with Creon, actively interceding with
advice at a critical moment late in the play. The Chorus is comprised of the Theban elders, vital for maintaining
order in the city, and Creon summons them to win their loyalty. They watch the unfolding events with sympathy
and a discerning eye: they pity Creon and Antigone, but also comment critically on their faults.
Creon: The ruler of Thebes in the wake of war, Creon cherishes order and loyalty above all else. He cannot bear
to be defied any more than he can bear to watch the laws of the state defied. He has Polyneices' body defiled
while Eteocles is honored because he feels that he cannot give equal to share to both brothers when one was a
traitor and the other was loyal. He does not recognize that other forms of justice exist, and in his pride he
condemns Antigone, defies the gods, and brings ruin on himself.
Sentry/Watchman: The Sentry brings the news that Polyneices has been buried, and later captures Antigone. His