The opening events of the play quickly establish the central conflict. Creon has decreed that the traitor Polynices must not be given proper burial, and Antigone is the only one who will speak against this decree and insist on the sacredness of family. Whereas Antigone sees no validity in a law that disregards the duty family members owe one another, Creon’s point of view is exactly opposite. He has no use for anyone who places private ties above the common good, as he proclaims firmly to the Chorus and the audience as he revels in his victory over Polynices. Creon’s first speech, which is dominated by words such as “principle,” “law,” “policy,” and “decree,” shows the extent to which Creon fixates on government and law as the supreme authority. Between Antigone and Creon there can be no compromise—they both find absolute validity in the respective loyalties they uphold.
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