The play Antigone
The play Antigone
This play is primarily about the death of two brothers and the struggle between their sister and the current ruler on where they should be buried. King Creon unilaterally decides that one brother will be honored with a decent burial while the other will be treated as an outcast. Antigone is the sister who rebelliously wants to bury Polyneices, an action in disobedience to the king’s orders. She seeks her sister’s help but that assistance is declined (Lee 43). However, she goes ahead with her plan. Creon, the dictator, is informed of her actions and ruthlessly calls for her death. Haemon, Creon’s son, who is in love with Antigone, tries to support her actions but to no avail. Nevertheless, a council of elders named the Chorus prevails upon Creon to release Antigone and to have Polyneices buried so as not to offend the gods. Unfortunately, they quickly learn that Antigone, Haemon and Antigone’s sister Ismene have committed suicide. Even Creon’s wife kills herself. This leaves a devastated Creon regretting his decisions.
There is an element of civil disobedience since Creon demands that all his orders, whether wrong or right, to be followed. In contrast, Antigone insists that laws can be amended and that no one is above them. In addition, there is a vivid lack of reference to the gods in this play. Consequently, the tragedies that occur can be understood to have happened due to the lack of divine intervention. Possibly, the brothers’ abandonment of the gods could have triggered their death in the war.
Similarly, a theme emerges of how the state tries to control everything about an individual’s life. For example, Antigone is cautioned against burying her own brother yet she views that as an infringement on her rights. Such actions evidently portray the dictatorial nature of Creon thereby justifying the reason as to why he is disliked by a majority of his subjects (Lee 74). Furthermore, the role of the gods is well articulated in this play. Although the Chorus is not forthright in giving their advice, Sophocles shows that the will of the gods is supreme. Thus, Creon is forced to change his mind to avoid the wrath from the gods on his territory, Theba.
A theme of loyalty is also pursued in the character of Haemon. He is depicted as being loyal to both the gods and to Antigone. Likewise, he is devoted to his father, Creon. All these loyalties clash so now he has to make a decision. As much as he wants to be obedient to his father Creon, he too would like to do the right thing. Actually, he does not want to be seen as supporting an injustice. Equally, Antigone is mixed up in a continuous conflict in which she is trying to redeem her family from past mistakes by burying her brother. At the same time, she is hopeless and full of sadness due to her impending death (Lee 17). This means that she is struggling with morality issues and this takes a huge toll on her. Unfortunately, the environment around her is unforgiving yet flashbacks of her sinful past keep tormenting her. At some point, she feels like she is paying for all her past transgressions. All these emotions and actions increase the intensity and suspension of the play hence raising its dramatic effect. Overally, it is a brilliant play.
Jacobus, Lee. The Compact Bedford Introduction to Drama, Sixth Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. Print.
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