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Antigone. A Study in Tragedy or the Tragic Drama. Who is Antigone?.

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    1. Antigone A Study in Tragedy or the Tragic Drama

    2. Who is Antigone? Antigone (Pronunciation: /æn'tɪɡəni/ Greek: Αντιγόνη) is the name of two different women in Greek mythology. The name means "unbending", for "anti-" (against) and "gon" ("bend" as in "polygon"). It also means "anti-generation", i.e., "the opposite of her ancestors".

    3. Antigone is the daughter of the accidentally incestuous marriage between King Oedipus of Thebes, and his mother Jocasta (thus, Antigone is also her father Oedipus's half-sister and, through her father, her mother Jocasta's granddaughter). She is the subject of a popular story in which she attempts to secure a respectable burial for her brother Polynices, even though he was a traitor to Thebes.

    4. In the oldest version of the story, the funeral of Polynices takes place during Oedipus's reign in Thebes. However, in the best-known versions, Sophocles's tragediesOedipus at Colonus and Antigone, it occurs in the years after Oedipus's banishment and death, and Antigone has to struggle against Creon. Sophocles's Antigone ends in disaster as Antigone commits suicide, not realizing that Creon has been persuaded to allow Polynices a funeral, and Creon's son Haemon (or Haimon), who loved Antigone, kills himself.

    5. The dramatist Euripides also wrote a play called Antigone, which is lost, but some of the text was preserved by later writers and in passages in his Phoenissae. In Euripides, the calamity is averted by the intercession of Dionysus and is followed by the marriage of Antigone and Haemon.

    6. Themes in “Antigone” The Nature of Tragedy • Halfway through the play, the Chorus appears on the scene to announce that the tragedy is on. His speech offers a commentary on the nature of tragedy. Here, in apparently a reference to Jean Cocteau, tragedy appears as a machine in perfect order, a machine that proceeds automatically and has been ready since the beginning of time.

    7. Themes (continued…) The Sisters' Rivalry • As with Sophocles' sisters, Ismene and Antigone appear as foils and rivals. Ismene is "reasonable," timid, and obedient, full-figured and beautiful in being a good girl. In contrast, Antigone is recalcitrant, impulsive, and moody, shallow, thin, and decidedly resistant to being a girl like the rest.

    8. Motifs in “Antigone” The Chorus: • In Greek tragedy, the Chorus consisted of a group of approximately ten people, playing the role of death messenger, dancing, singing, and commenting throughout from the margins of the action. The Chorus represents an indeterminate group, be it the inhabitants of Thebes or the moved spectators. It also appears as narrator, framing frames the tragedy with a prologue and epilogue.

    9. Motifs (continued…) Tragic Beauty • As noted above, Antigone's insistence on her desire makes her monstrous, abject. At the same time, her abjection is her tragic beauty.

    10. Symbolism in “Antigone” The Gray World • Upon sneaking in from her brother's burial, Antigone tells the Nurse that she has come from a "gray world." Like many of Anouilh's heroines, Antigone wanders in this gray "nowhere," a world beyond the "post card" universe of the waking. This world is breathless with anticipation: it doubles the stage, set apart from the human world, upon which Antigone's tragedy will ensue. At the same time, the world of the living does not lie in wait for Antigone: she is meant to pass onto another.

    11. Symbolism (continued…) Eurydice's Knitting • As the Chorus remarks, Queen Eurydice's function in the tragedy is to knit in her room until she dies. She is Creon's final lesson, her death leaving him utterly alone. In the report of her suicide, Eurydice will stop her knitting and the stab herself with her needle. The end of her knitting is the end of her life, evoking the familiar Greek myth of the life-thread spun, measured, and cut by the Fates.

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