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Setting: The play takes place in Thebes and starts at dawn following the night Polyneices and Eteocles (Antigone's brothers) fight for the thrown Oedipus (their father) held. Polyneices fights against his own country, the city of Thebes, and his brother fights defending it. They kill each other in the battle and Creon (their uncle and the king of Thebes) decided to leave Polyneices on the field to rot because he defied his own country, and anyone who tried to interfere with his edict would be dealt harsh consequences, even death. "Let him lie unwept, unburied, a toothsome morsel for the birds of heaven, and whoso touches him shall perish by the cruel death of stoning." Antigone decided to give her brother a proper burial and was prepared to face Creon's harsh consequences because she felt it was worth keeping her loyalties to her brother, Polyneices. A good portion of the scenes took place at Creon's palace.
Time period: Sophocles wrote Antigone in 441 B.C.
Author background: Sophocles borrowed some of Aeschylus ideas in his Seven Against Thebes for Antigone. Antigone was actually the earliest of the plays Sophocles devoted to the Theban cycle of myths. Sophocles was around his fifties when he wrote it and used three tragedies to tell a single storyOedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone.
Antigone Daughter of Oedipus and sister of Polyneices, Eteocles, and Ismene. She is determined to give her brother the proper burial he deserves. Ismene opposes the idea, but Antigone is not swayed, or even thinks twice of reconsidering. She is a martyr, willing to die for her dead brother's sake, "A death martyrdom can render blest". When Creon leaves her in the tomb to die she feels self-pity. Nonetheless, she is a tragic heroine.
Ismene- She believes in listening to Creon even though his actions are wrong. She tries to talk Antigone out of her plan but she can not, but in the end she tries to take part in the crime placed upon her sister Antigone, but Antigone rebukes her. "But now that your poor ship is buffeted, I'm not ashamed to sail the voyage at your side", Ismene said that to Antigone when they faced Creon. She loved her sister, she was the only immediate family she had left. Though she was weak to defy Creon in the beginning to bury her brother with Antigone, she proved her loyalty to the family by trying to regain it in the end.
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Creon- His only interests are political and social order within the city of Thebes. He does not show his feelings of sympathy because he believes in the law at any cost even if it means killing his own flesh and blood. (He drives his son to kill himself, Haemon) " And by no youthful foolishness But by my folly"Creon realizes his fault in the end, and it is too late.
Haemon- Antigone's fiancé and son of Creon. He understands Antigone's reasoning for burying her brother, even though it defies his father's edict. He tells his father that his edict is wrong and heartless and takes Antigone's side because he loves her. He can not sway his father to drop his edict, and profoundly threatens his father that if he cannot be with his beloved in life, then he shall be with her in death. A true lover and romantic.
Eurydice- Creon's wife who practically knits in her room until it is her time to die. Her suicide is seen to be Creon's punishment for his harsh actions.
Tiresias- blind prophet. Tells Creon he will be damned for his actions, "A corpse for a corpse the price, and flesh for flesh, one of your own begotten."
Pivotal Event- Is when Antigone is found dead. They push away the rock from the tomb and see that she has hung herself, " hanging with a noose of linen round her neck ". Haemon drew a sword and lunged to kill his father, who tries to console him, " And now, come to me, my son. Your father begs you...". Creon runs away and Haemon stabs himself in his side and kills himself, " limply folded Antigone close to his arms " This event is pivotal because is displays the consequences of the two main Characters. Antigone, who defied the law(Creon's edict). And Creon who was inhuman and acted on hubris.
Love will make a person do all kinds of things.
Antigone's love for her brother lead her to defy the law and in the end Ismene's love for Antigone pushes her to take the heat with Antigone, even though she is denied it. And Haemon kills himself to be with the one he loves.
Moral law will bring justice to the folly in human law.
Creon's law was pointless, the man is already dead (Polyneices), he already suffered yet Creon still tried to have the last say by ordering that he rot there. The law was flawed and served no good purpose but to kill two innocent, zealous people. Therefore, moral law came in and proved to have the last say .God will avenge those who avenge others unrightfully. (this could be a theme too)
When one exceeds his or hers' mark of prowess and glory he or she ultimately enables a tragedy.
There was a veiled warning to Creon not to overstep humane bound but he did anyways. In addition, Antigone overstepped hers by taking on a male role of burying her brother (that was a male's job) which women did not do because it just wasn't suitable for them. This was the catalyst to both of their tragedies.
Antigone: She represents strength, determination and will. She is determined and holds her own weight. She does not need the help of others and is able to face the consequences.
Ismene: She represents innocence and compassion. Even though she will not help Antigone she sympathizes with her. She is pure and childlike.
Creon: He represents law, power, and firmness. He does not care about his family, he only cares about the state and the overall welfare of his people. He puts his country before everything else even if he has to kill his own to do so.
Tiresias: Represents moral law
The gray world: It is very dark throughout the play given the circumstances. The dead brothers, Antigone's tomb sentence, etc. It represents the mood of the play, which is dark and gloomy and it foreshadows the tragedy.
Most Vivid Images:
When Antigone buries her brother it is a very empowering scene. She shows so much emotion and loyalty.
When Creon confronts Antigone at his castle and asks why she defied his ruling. And, when Ismene tried to plead guilty with Antigone. It stirs a lot of anticipation.
When Antigone is found dead behind the huge rock. In the tomb.
When Haemon tries to stab his father, then stabs himself. His love and devotion to Antigone pours out in this scene.
"He has no right to keep me from my own." Antigone
"Not even death can metamorphose hate to love."Creon
"No, nor decompose my love to hate."Antigone
"What ruleWhen you trample on the rule of heaven?"Haemon says this to his father when he confronts him about Antigone's possible death.
"You plunged a child of light into the dark; entombed the living with the dead; the dead dismissed unmourned, denied a gravea corpse unhallowed and defeated of his destiny below. Where neither you nor gods must meddle, you have thrust your thumbs."--Tiresias