Cold Sunlight: Light and Dark Imagery in Antigone

In Sophocles' Antigone, Creon, the King of Thebes, is entrusted to care for Antigone and Ismene, the daughters of the deceased Theban King Oedipus. However, Creon and the strong-willed Antigone clash on the issue of the burial of Antigone and Ismene's brother Polyneices. Polyneices and Eteocles, another brother, died in the battle that ensued when Polyneices invaded Thebes and his brother's ruling party. Because Eteocles' side won, and because Polyneices was the exiled invader, Eteocles was to be given a hero's funeral while Polyneices was ordered to be abandoned in the open for the birds and insects to eat his corpse. Creon fully agrees with this assessment, because it aligns with the nomos, or the government's law, but Antigone despairs over the injustice of it-in her view, everyone should be given a proper burial, according to the physis, or natural law. This conflict between Creon and Antigone, and the narrating Chorus' opinions of both sides, is at the center of the events in the play. Sophocles makes use of contrasting light and dark imagery to portray the Chorus' perception of not only the play's characters and events but of the conflicting laws of nature and government that they...

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