Ismene asks Creon whether he really would kill the bride of his son - since Creon's son Haemon is meant to marry Antigone. Creon says that there other women Haemon may find, and death will put a stop to the marriage. The guards take the two sisters inside. The Chorus mourns the tragedies of the house of Labdacus - the house that spawned Oedipus' doomed lineage. They say that madness stalks the family without fail, creating disaster for many generations like a great salt wave. They see grief falling from the beginning of the Labdacus history and that the gods continue to batter them without relief. Even the saving light of Antigone will now go out, doomed by foolish words and impulsive actions. They see madness as a product of mortals who are great, and all the members of the Labdacus family are subject to this curse.
Haemon enters, and at first seems willing to submit to his father's judgment. Creon embarks on a long diatribe, saying that a son must always be loyal to his father, disdain any wife who is hostile or criminal, look down upon all disobedience and treachery to law, and most of all ensure that they are not defeated by a woman. The Chorus is dazzled by Creon's speech, and now fully sympathize with him. Haemon, however, tells his father that the people of Thebes sympathize with Antigone - and that even though he agrees with his father, the will of the people should be honored. Haemon says that even though he would never question his father's leadership and agrees with the philosophy of his rule, he should also be open to other points of view. The Chorus also agrees with Haemon, and declares that both men have spoken well.
Creon is angry once again, and asks the Chorus whether they should be taught by a boy who is as young as Creon. Haemon tells his father he would never urge him to show respect for a criminal, prompting Creon to ask whether he thinks Antigone has committed a crime. Haemon says that he thinks not - because the people of Thebes deny it. Creon asks whether the people should tell him what orders to give, and Haemon says a place for one man alone is not a city. Creon accuses Haemon of being a woman's slave, to which his son simply replies that Antigone will not die while he is near, and that Creon will never see his face again. He exits, and the Chorus warns of the impulsiveness of youth.
Creon says that both girls will now be killed, but the Chorus' prudent questions make Creon realize that Ismene should be spared. He does, however, say that Antigone will be buried alive underground with only as much food as religious law prescribes so that the city will not be cursed for homicide. Underground, Antigone can pray to Hades, since he is the only god that she respects. Maybe she'll arrange for him to save her life - and she'll learn that she's wasting her time showing respect for whatever lies in the underworld. Creon exits.
It is interesting to note that Antigone does not defend Ismene out of love or altruism, but rather because she pridefully claims the burial as her own work. If Antigone has a tragic flaw, it's she - not Creon - who is too prideful, even boastful. When Ismene says that she'll be her shipmate in suffering (540), Antigone refuses her complicity, saying that the gods below saw who did the work, and more damningly, that "I won't accept a friend who's only friends in words" (543). Antigone, then, is saying that