Creon asks Haemon if he comes in anger or obedience. Haemon says he will obey Creon. Creon is pleased, and delivers a lecture on a son's obedience to his father and the importance of not losing one's head over a bad woman. He tells Creon to let Antigone go.
Here Creon seems particularly rigid and heartless. Even if he believes he is right and his son should obey him, he doesn't show an ounce of sympathy for Haemon, who loves Antigone.
Creon says that had he not punished Antigone's defiance of the rule of law, it would be like inviting anarchy to destroy the city. The fact that Antigone is a woman, Creon adds, is a further reason why she must not be allowed to defy him. The leader of the chorus says that this sounds sensible.
Creon details his thoughts on the importance of the rule of law over other loyalties, and his belief that to allow any anarchy (or, seemingly, freedom) would threaten the state.
Haemon tells Creon that it's not his place to correct the king, but that the rumors in the street are that the people are sympathetic to Antigone. The people are afraid of Creon, but they believe Antigone should be allowed to bury her brother. Haemon asks his father to realize that he may have made a mistake. He pleads with his father not to be so rigid.
If Creon is a fair king who truly represents and defends his people, as he seems to believe himself to be, then he should pay attention to his people. If they don't think Antigone should be punished, then perhaps Creon should reconsider.
Creon reacts with anger at his son's offering of advice. Again he calls Antigone a traitor. Haemon says the people of Thebes do not see it that way. Creon responds, "And is Thebes about to tell me how to rule? ... Am I to rule this land for others—or myself?"
Creon thinks reconsidering would invite anarchy and threaten the state. But if he rules for himself only, ignoring his people, then how can he claim that his laws are just?
The king and his son continue to argue. Creon accuses Haemon of supporting Antigone against his father. Haemon responds that he is trying to keep his father from committing an injustice. The argument grows more heated and Creon hurls stronger and stronger insults at his son. Haemon threatens that Antigone's death will cause another death. At last, Haemon rushes away, saying that Creon will never see him again.
Creon's blind pride has made him fail to understand Haemon's threat. It also makes him fail to recognize that his devotion to the safety of the state has made him a tyrant whose laws defy the wishes of his people and the laws of the gods.
The leader of the chorus worries that Haemon may do something violent. Creon doesn't care. He decides to spare Ismene, but says that he will take Antigone into the wilderness and enclose her in a vault with just a bit of food. Either the god she seems to love—Death—will save her, or "she may learn at last… what a waste of breath it is to worship Death."
Creon's method of executing Antigone is interesting. By entombing a living person (Antigone) and denying burial to a dead person (Polynices), Creon's laws seem to go against common sense, tradition, and nature itself.
The chorus offers a chant about love, a force that can't be conquered, that taunts people and makes them do crazy things. Guards bring Antigone from the palace. The chorus is heartbroken at the sight of her.
She has been stubborn, but Antigone now gains the audience's pity for what she has become: a person about to die unjustly.
Antigone laments her fate, and the fact that she will never experience the joys of marriage. She further laments the horror of her coming death. The chorus tells her she went too far in her protests, and wonders if she is continuing to suffer for the sins of her father, Oedipus. The mention of her father and his fate stirs Antigone to more intense mourning. The chorus tells Antigone, "Your own blind will, your passion has destroyed you." Creon enters, and tells the guards to interrupt her lament, to take her away, build a tomb, and place her in it.
Antigone come to terms with the consequences of her decision, and sadness has at least for the moment replaced defiance. The chorus is sympathetic, but points out that Antigone kept pushing when she could have given up. In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus insists on uncovering the truth about his past, even when others have warned him that doing so will destroy him. Like her father, Antigone brings on her own demise.
Antigone continues to mourn her life and death. She says that she would not have done what she did—disobey the laws to bury her brother—for a husband or a child, because one may find another husband or have another child. But because her parents are dead, she'll never have another brother.
Antigone here seems to go against her earlier claim that all the dead must be treated equally. Her shift suggests that Antigone may be softening, giving Creon an opportunity to show mercy.
As she's led away, Antigone calls out that she is being punished for her devotion to the gods. She then begs the gods to punish Creon as terribly as he is punishing her if they agree with her that Creon has defied their laws.
Creon shows no mercy. Antigone calls out to the gods because she believes that their power and laws take precedence over Creon's.
The chorus chants about other figures of mythology who were entombed alive. All of them were kings or children of gods, yet even they could not escape their fates, just as Antigone cannot escape hers.
By referencing other mythical Greek figures, the chorus seems to suggest that Antigone has been fated since long ago to die like this, just as her father Oedipus was fated to kill his own father and marry his mother.