Prior to the events in the play, Eteocles and Polyneices die in battle, as the result of a curse placed on them by Oedipus. Creon becomes the new ruler of Thebes, and he decides to honor Eteocles while condemning Polyneices. He insists that Polyneices's body be left on the battlegrounds to be subject to the wild animals, which was one of the cruelest acts that existed at the time.
Antigone, the sister of both brothers, informs Ismene that she wants to bury Polyneices's body and cannot bear to see his body shamed and disgraced. Ismene refuses due to her fear of the death penalty, but Antigone decides to regardless of Ismene's approval or the death penalty.
Later, a Sentry appears to notify him that Polyneices's body has been buried. Furious, Creon orders him to find the culprit. The Sentry brings in Antigone, and after a brief interrogation Creon decides to imprison her and Ismene, whom he believes to have been responsible as well. Haemon, Creon's son, appears to try to dissuade his father from executing Antigone, but Creon refuses. They elapse into a bitter argument with each other, and Haemon turns his back against his father.
Creon decides to spare Ismene but he decides to incarcerate Antigone in an open cave, justifying that technically he wouldn't have killed her if she died. The chorus expresses concern on her fate.
Teiresias, the blind prophet, comes to Creon to urge him to bury Polyneices and release Antigone as soon as possible, or else he will lose Haemon, the Greeks will despise him, and his offerings to the Gods will be refused. Creon eventually consents to mend the situation. However, when he visits the cave, he finds that Antigone has hanged herself, and Haemon has also killed himself after seeing Antigone's body.
Horrified, Creon realizes his grave mistakes. His wife Eurydice learns of the events and kills herself and curses Creon. Ashamed and full of grief, Creon loses his might and laments over his errors.