Sophocles' Antigone

Sophocles' Antigone

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Sophocles' Antigone


1. - Clearly define by specific traits the character of Antigone and Creon.

After her mother committed suicide, her father died and her brothers fought until they killed each other, Antigone projects her strong character with interesting ways of showing it. As the main character with strong values and a stubborn way, she follows the laws of god, without minding the consequences. Antigone is a strong willed woman who wins the respect of the audience by the inner strength and resistance of manipulation she has, showing the potential of human kind. She becomes a heroine with noble qualities of mind, heart and soul because she is willing to sacrifice her life, doing what she believes it is right. With a sense of family ties, she is an ideal for humanity, the issue is that she must burry her brother Polynices with an appropriate ceremony since she believes it is the last right for every human being.
At first she tries to convince her sister Ismene to join her in her plans, but Ismene refuses, she is not willing to give up her life at all, when Antigone is not only risking her life but also her marriage with Haemon. When Antigone meets Creon she proves her strength and spiritual power. Some say she is not a saint but a martyr. She combats Creon with insolence towards the civil authority, following always the laws of heaven.

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She dies unjustly but with a glorious death, imposing her beliefs over politics.

Antigone's Uncle, Creon is the ruler of Thebes, the villain
of the tragedy and he is faced in a political crisis because Eteocles and Polynices had problems deciding the heir of the throne. Creon is a strong politician, loyal to his home state and with powerful ambitions. As an analogy Creon describes the government as a "Ship of State" making a comparison of the struggle both go through to be safe at the end. As the real purpose of his speech to the chorus, Creon manipulates the citizens communicating the power he has earned, and asks them for the same loyalty they have showed to earlier kings. Creon shows different traits in his speech, he seems to be honest, kind, fair, open-minded and he apparently cares for people's demands using the value of friendship. Politics are always this way. He says, "No one values friendship more highly than I; but we must remember that friends made at the risk of wrecking our Ship are not real friends". This position reflects what every politician does, he persuades people with what they want to hear, making it appear that he appreciates friendship. Creon believes that Eteocles should have an honorable burial, since he died fighting for his country. On the other side, Polynices does not deserve an honorable burial because he broke his exile to fight against his native city. Creon is transmitting to the Chorus what loyalty means to him and how important is to honor a person who gave his life defending his own land. "Eteocles, who died as a man should die, fighting for his country, is to be buried with full military honors…" He formulates unpleasant laws that create a difficult situation. At the very end he recognizes his error since Antigone his niece, Haemon his son, and Eurydice his wife committed suicide. Creon buries Polynices and realizes he is left alone with an infinitely sadness.

2a. - Understand and clearly define the role of the chorus in Greek drama.

The chorus in Greek drama has a very important role, since it presents the exposition of the play and represents the individuals identity because it plays the role of a group of people involved, commenting on the actions of the play to show the reactions of common people. It contains dramatic spoken exchanges between them and the characters or the audience and a choral song accompanied by music. The word chorus means "dance" it was part of religious rituals in the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. and it was used at first in the Dionysus festivals and later in comedy, always influenced by the archaic Attican tradition.
The dithyramb was the original choral lyric that honored the god, Dionysus during his festivals and the apostrophe, the final participation of the chorus before the closure of the play. The chorus sang the lyric passages to the tune of the flute with choreography and emmelia, which means gracefulness, was the dignified dance distinct from the ones in comedy.
Coryphaeus was the leader of the chorus and he was allowed to converse briefly either with the chorus, characters or the audience, the Chorodidaskalos was the trainer and the Choregus the one who selected the members, at the beginning only 12, but Sophocles added 3 more making it 15 members as part of the chorus.
Greek tragedy did not show violent scenes and the chorus was the one that would give a graphic picture of battles, etc, it also created music which made that the Greek tragedy have a Grand Opera effect.

2b. - Apply your own knowledge of the chorus form (2a) and clearly define how and why the chorus functions the way it does in Antigone.

Sophocles uses the chorus in Antigone to represent the ordinary people of Thebes that are loyal to their state and gods. It demonstrates a public reaction to the crisis of the unfolding issues and how that can affect people's lives. The chorus is concerned for the public welfare, peace and the internal security of Thebes, which ensures their own survival. They often express social, political, moral and religious opinions.
In Antigone the coryphaeus, the leader has an important separate dialogue at the end where he sums up the moral of the play, presenting the exposition of the play outlining the background of the actions.
The chorus examines conflicts with observant eyes and it reviews what has happened with details which provides emotional and mental contrasts. The function the chorus has in Antigone is narrative and expository since it narrated the battle between Polynices and Eteocles. The audience identifies with the chorus and that involves them inside the play.
The chorus empathizes with Antigone but realizes that supporting her may cause another instability in Thebes.

The chorus plays the role of the courtiers of Creon, they listen respectfully to his commands and they know that disobeying him may cause a disaster. It also takes the role of the citizens of the sates providing wise advice to Creon, because they suspect how the confrontation of Haemon is going to end up like, they say that when young and hurt, you become desperate.

The chorus is unable to make up its mind, it is concerned for Antigone and caught of the fear Creon shows and also has many strong emotions because of the civil war, the brother's deaths, the time when Antigone buried Polynices and the time when Creon's decision was to kill her. The chorus accepts that Antigone's act was honorable but also that her self-willed passion lead her to her overthrow.
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