What Are Some Examples of Dramatic Irony in "Antigone"?

examples-dramatic-irony-antigone Credit: Lipnitzki/Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Sophocles' tragedy "Antigone" contains dramatic irony with the decision of Creon to bury one of Antigone's brothers with honor but not the other and with Antigone's determination and strength when contrasted with the characters' view of women as weak. In addition, Creon's dialogue often is filled with verbal irony stemming from his lack of awareness of the truth, which contrasts with the reader's knowledge.

As the play opens, Antigone is very aware of the irony involved in the fact that Creon has decreed that one of her brother's be accorded a hero's burial while her other brother is left to rot for political reasons. This sets up a greater dramatic irony when Antigone, considered to be weak because she is a woman, shows more moral strength than the men around her by vowing to bury her brother Polyneices herself.

Antigone's decision to bury her brother ignites a further dramatic irony when Creon declares vengeance against whoever dared to bury Polyneices against his orders. The irony here stems from the fact that the viewer is aware that Antigone was responsible for the burial while Creon is not aware.

Creon's verbal irony continues when he is warned by a prophet that Thebes is to be destroyed by the choices being made. Creon makes sweeping statements against those he considers to be "shameful," without being aware that he is talking about himself. Creon further expounds on the weakness of women without being cognizant of the fact that Antigone, a woman, has caused the fall of the city.