People with different views of the way humanity and its laws function reach certain stages of moral development. Kohlberg presents us with these stages of moral development. The individual is categorized under his or her moral priority and the way he or she would handle unexpected situations. In Sophocles' play, Antigone, characters illustrate Kohlberg's moral development principles. .
Ismene embodies Kohlberg's pre-conventional stage throughout Sophocles's play Antigone. In Kohlberg's first level of moral thinking, physical consequences of an action determine its goodness or badness regardless of the humane meaning or value of these consequences. This pre-conventional stage is conveyed through out the play in Ismene. Ismene depicts the question of what is right and what is wrong according to its punishment and consequences. She follows the laws of Creon for she believes her morals cannot possibly be compared to that of a king. She fears the penalty for her actions and acts on her own best interest. Society tends to stay with authoritarian law because they feel the law is above their beliefs and they are powerless against it. Even when Antigone comes to Ismene and asks for her assistance she mocks Antigone for her idiocy to defy the supreme law, Ismene states "And do what he has forbidden! We are only women, we cannot fight with men, Antigone! The law is strong, we must give in to the law In this thing, and in worse” (Sophocles 750). Ismene fails to realize that there is a greater cause beyond Antigone's breaking of the law, Antigone is trying to accomplish something regardless of the law, and Ismene is oblivious to her actions. The law has overwhelmed society and society's social orientation. Society has to grow out of the pre conventional stage and needs to put obedience and punishment behind for a greater cause. Society has to realize man's faults and realize that there is a greater universal decree, greater than any other created by man.