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Antigone Study Questions Prologue/Parados pp. 685-698

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Antigone Study Questions Prologue/Parados
pp. 685-698
1. Where is the story set? THE CITY OF THEBES
2. How did Antigone and Ismene’s brothers die? THEY KILLED EACH OTHER IN BATTLE
OVER THE THRONE OF THEBES
3. What order has Creon given regarding Polyneices’ body? TO LIE IN THE FIELD TO ROT
WITHOUT PROPER BURIAL RITES
4. What motivates Antigone to break Creon’s law? What motivates Ismene to respect it?
ANTIGONE IS MOTIVATED BY LOVE FOR HER BROTHER AND DEVOTION TO THE
GODS; ISMENE IS MOTIVATED BY FEAR AND RESPECT FOR THE LAW.
Give examples of verbal irony (what is said is the opposite of what is meant) in Antigone’s
scenes with Ismene.
“YOU MAY DO AS YOU LIKE, SINCE APPARENTLY THE LAWS OF THE GODS MEAN
NOTHING TO YOU.”
“YOU NEED NOT BE; YOU HAVE YOURSELF TO CONSIDER, AFTER ALL.”
5.
6. Why does Ismene tell her sister, “You are mad!”
BECAUSE ANTIGONE HAS DECIDED TO DEFY CREON AND BURY HER
BROTHER.
7. Why doesn’t Ismene help her sister?
SHE’S AFRAID TO DEFY CREON’S BROTHER.
8. Which of Antigone’s parting comments to Ismene seem especially cruel or hurtful? How can
you explain or defend Antigone’s verbal cruelty?
“I SHALL BE HATING YOU SOON, AND THE DEAD WILL TOO” OR “IT WILL NOT BE
THE WORST OF DEATHS—DEATH WITHOUT HONOR.” HER CRUELTY COMES
FROM PASSIONATE FEELINGS, SHE IS BEING SELFISH AND MELODRAMTIC.
9. When the Chorus members first appear, what background information do they provide?
THEY GIVE BACGROUND ON THE BATTLE BETWEEN ETEOCLES AND
POLYNEICES.
10. What is Parados? What is Strophe? What is Antistrophe?
PARADOS—1ST ODE OR CHORAL SONG; STROPHE—PART OF THEODE WHERE
CHORUS MOVES FROM RIGHT TO LEFT OF THE STAGE; ANTISTROPHE—PART OF
THE ODE WHERE CHORUS MOVES FROM LEFT TO RIGHT OF THE STAGE.
11. How does Sophocles personify the spears of Polyneices forces?
HE SAYS THEY ARE “FAMISHED” FOR LIFE
12. Whose “jaws” are likewise described as hungry for the blood of the people of Thebes? What
fierce beast is the city of Thebes compared to?
POLYNEICES; A DRAGON
13. How does the final antistrophe remind the audience of the time of day and the physical and
emotional setting? NOW THE BATTLE IS OVER, IT IS A BEAUTIFUL MORNING, AND
THE CITY OF THEBES IS FILLED WITH JOYFUL HYMNS OF PRAISE
1
Antigone Study Questions Scene 1/Ode 1
pp. 700-705
1. Briefly explain the line of succession that resulted in Creon’s ascension to power.
BROTHER TO JOCASTA; AFTER 2 BROTHERS KILL EACH OTHER, HE TAKES OVER
BEING THE ONLY MALE HEIR TO THE THRONE LEFT IN THE LINE
2. What is the “Ship of State”? What are the recent storms that threatened it?
THE GOVERNMENT OF THEMES; THE REBELLION LED BY POLYNEICES
3. Why has Creon summoned the senators?
TO INFORM HIM OF THE LAWS REGARDING POLYNEICES BURIAL AND
PUNISHMENT TO THOSE WHO BREAK THE LAW
4. How does the end of Creon’s speech differ in tone from the beginning?
HE STARTED OUT SOUNDING VERY REASONABLE AND HUMANE; WHEREAS NOW HE
SOUNDS VENGEFUL AND CRUEL
5. How does the Choragos feel about Creon’s demand? How do you know how he feels?
HE WILL OBEY IT BUT HE DOES NOT SEEM TO LIKE IT. HE SAYS ITS “HIS WILL”
AND HIS “RIGHT TO ENFORCE IT.” HE ASKS THAT THE YOUNGER MEN HANDLE
THE SITUATION.
6. What does the comment in ll. 63-65 reveal about Creon’s attitudes or mind-set?
HE HAS A SUSPICIOUS NATURE; HE IS CYNICAL ABOUT THE HONESTY OF TOHERS,
READY TO BELIEVE THAT ANYONE CAN BE BRIBED.
7. How does the Sentry’s arrival diffuse the tension of the scene?
HIS COMIC BABBLING BREAKS INTO THE CONFLICT THA HAS BEEN BUILDING
BETWEEN CREON AND THE CHORAGOS
8. What is the Sentry’s news?
SOMEONE HAS COVERED POLYNEICES’ BODY ATTEMPTING BURIAL RITES.
9. What motive does Creon suspect the person who buried Polyneices had? What will happen
to him/her if Creon finds him/her? HE BELIEVES THAT THERE ARE THOSE WHO
WANT TO GET RID OF HIM AS KING AND ARE SCHEMING TO DO SO FOR MONEY.
THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE WILL BE STONED TO DEATH.
10. Why is the Sentry so happy to leave Creon? HE WILL BE SAFE FROM CREON’S WRATH
11. What attitude toward human beings does the Chorus express in Ode 1? What one fact
tempers their attitude? HUMANITY IS THE GREATEST OF THE WORLD’S WONDERS,
BUT DESPITE ITS MANY CONQUESTS, IT CANNOT ESCAPE DEATH.
12. According to the last stanza of the Ode, why do you think the chorus supports Creon?
CREON EMBODIES THE LAW, AND THE CHORUS TRULY BELIEVES THERE IS NO
CIVILIZATION WITHOUT LAW. THE CHORUS MAY NOT LIKE CREON, BUT IT
WANTS THEBES TO REMAIN ORDERED AND SECURE.
2
Antigone Study Questions Scene 2/Ode
2 pp. 707-713
1. How was Antigone captured and by whom? THE SENTRY CAPTURED ANTIGONE AS SHE
WAS WAILING AND THROWING DUST ON THE BODY IN A BURIAL RITUAL.
2. What happened right before Antigone was detected alongside of the body? A WIND BLEW UP
AND WHEN ALL WAS STILL THERE WAS A WAILING AT THE SIGHT OF THE BARE
BODY
3. What was Antigone doing with the corpse? GIVING IT A RITUAL BATH
4. What reason does Antigone give for violating Creon’s decree? What theme of the play does her
reasoning express? SHE SAYS THAT CREON’S DECREE WAS NOT GOD’S
PROCALMATION AND THAT IT CANNOT STAND AGAINST HIS IMMORTAL LAWS.
DIVINE LAW TRANSCENDS HUMAN LAW.
5. Creon accuses Antigone of boasting in her outrageous deed. Cite one of her lines that
demonstrate her boasting. “THUS TO ME THE PAIN IS LIGHT TO MEET THIS FATE.”
6. According to Antigone, why doesn’t anyone praise her for her actions? Do you think Antigone
reads the motives of the Theban elders correctly? Why or why not?
THEY ARE AFRAID OF ANGERING CREON. SHE READS THEM CORRECTLY
BECAUSE CREON HAS ALREADY MOVED TO ESTABLISH HIS POWER AND THEY
SPOKE EARLIER OF “HIS WILL” AND THE POWER TO ENFORCE IT. GIVEN HAS
EXTREME HER FEELINGS ARE AND HOW FOCUSED SHE IS ON THE HONOR OF HER
BROTHER; IT MAY BE THAT SHE’S NOT RELIABLE INTERPRETER OF OTHER
PEOPLE’S FEELINGS.
7. In line 103-120, what is Creon’s main point? What is Antigone’s main point?
CREON: A TRAITOR SHOULD NOT BE HONORED THE SAME AS A HERO.
ANTIGONE: ALL THE DEAD SHOULD BE HONORED NO MATTER HOW THEY DIED.
8. In ll. 121-127, the Choragos and Creon apply an image to Ismene. What are the two images?
How do these images reveal the different viewpoints of the Choragos and of Creon?
THE CHORAGOS DESCRIBES HER AS A CLOUD RAING SORROW. CREON
DESCRIBES HER AS A SNAKE SUCKING BLOOD. CHORAGOS USES A GENTALE
IMAGE THAT SUGGESTS PITY AND SYMPATHY FOR ISMENE. CREON USES A
SINISTER IMAGE THAT SUGGEST SCORN, HATRED AND FEAR OF ISMENE.
9. Why does Ismene say that she helped Antigone? Considering everything you know about Ismene
so far, why do you think she desires death? What is her motivation?
SHE WANTS TO SHARE THE BURDEN NOW THAT CREON IS ABOUT TO PUNISH
ANTIGONE. SHE AHS CONSDIERED ANTIGONE’S ARGUMENTS AND CHANGED HER
MIND ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF HONORING POLYNEICES. IF ANTIGONE IS
KILLED, ISMENE DOES NOT WANT TO FACE LIFE AS THE SOLE SURVIOR OF THE
HOUSE OF OEDIPUS THE FINAL TARGET OF THE CURSE OF THAT HOUSE.
10. In Ode 4, who is meant by the “last flower of Oedipus’ line”—Antigone or Ismene? What
context clues tell you the answer? ANTIGONE—THE “PASSIONATE WORD” IN LINE 11
REFERS TO HER DEFIANCE OF CREON, AND “A HANDFUL OF DUST” IN LINE 12
REFERS TO HER ATTEMPTED BURIALS OF POLYNEICES.
3
Antigone Study Questions Scene 3/Ode 3
pp. 716-721
1. What observations are made by the Choragos at the first part of this section?
SENATORS OBSERVE THAT ONCE THE GODS ARE DISPLEASED, AN ENTIRE
FAMILY LINE SUFFERS.
2. What is your first impression of Haimon’s attitude toward his father? HE SEEMS LOVING
AND OBEDIENT; TOTALLY SUBSERVIENT.
3. What is ironic about Creon’s giving Haimon advice about Antigone? CREON CAN’T
UNDERSTAND OR DEAL WITH ANTIGONE. HE MISJUDGES HER WHEN HE
PREDICTS THAT SHE WILL PLEAD “FAMILY TIES” TO SAVE HER LIFE. THAT
IS THE CAUSE FOR WHICH SHE IS WILLING TO DIE.
4. What words are sometimes used to describe the kind of leader Creon is describing in ll. 35-36?
DICTATOR, TYRANT, DESPOT, CZAR, OPPRESSOR
5. State in your own words the key arguments Haimon is using in ll. 51-63.
AGAINST CREON
PUBLIC OPINION IS
6. What two analogies or comparisons does Haimon use in lines 80-85 to show Creon that it is wise
to be flexible?
A TREE THAT BENDS WILL NOT BE UPROOTED; A SHIP THAT
SLACKENS ITS SAILS WILL NOT BE OVERTURNED
7. Why do you think the Choragos avoids taking sides in the argument between Haimon and Creon?
HE THINKS THAT HAIMON IS MAKING A VALID POINT, BUT HE KNOWS THAT
CREON HAS THE POWER TO PUNISH HAIMON OR ANYONE WHO SUPPORTS
HAIMON.
8. What character flaws in Creon are revealed by this question, “You consider it right for a man of
my years and experience to go to school to a boy?” IT SHOWS HIS PRIDE, ARROGANCE,
AND INABILTIY TO BELIEVE THAT SOMEONE YOUNGER COULD HAVE ANTYHING
WORTHWHILE TO SAY.
9. How does Haimon’s attitude toward Creon change since the beginning of the scene in ll. 124125?
HE HAS GONE FROM BEING RESPECTFUL AND OBEDIENT TO BEING
ANGRY, DESPARATE, AND SCORNFUL.
10. Why does Haimon leave when Creon orders Antigone brought forth? HE WILL NOT GIVE
CREON THE SATISFACTION FO MAKING HIM WATCH ANTIGONE DIE
11. How does Creon intend for Antigone to die? WALLED IN A CAVE WITH ENOUGH FOOD
AND WATER TO LAST A FEW DAYS TO ABSOLVE HIMSELF OF THE GUILT
12. Ode 3 responds to Scene 3, in which Creon accuses Haimon of being led by love of a woman.
What does the Chorus say it believes about love?
LOVE IS GLORIOUS, BUT ITS SO
POWERFUL THAT NEITHER THE GODS NOR MAN CAN CONTROL IT; THE CHORUS
CALLS APHRODITE, THE GODDESS OF LOVE, “MERCILESS”
4
Antigone Study Questions Scene 4
pp. 723-726
1. The play is moving toward its climax. What dramatic action is about to occur?
ANTIGONE IS BEING LED TO IMPRISONMENT IN A STONE VAULT OR CAVE.
2. What change do you notice in Antigone’s manner? SHE IS TERRIBLY FORLORN
ABOUT HER APPROACHING DEATH AND IS LESS FORCEFUL AND AGGRESSIVE
THAN IN PERVIOUS SPEECHES.
3. What two things does Antigone ask of the elders of Thebes? TO SERVE AS WITNESSES OF
HER UNJUST SENTENCE AND TO THINK OF HER WITH LOVE
4. Who is Niobe and why does Antigone mention her death? ANCIENT QUEEN OF THEBES WHO
BOASTED SHE WAS SUPERIOR TO LETO BECAUSE LETO’S ONLY CHILDREN WER THE
TWINS, APOLLO AND ARTEMIS. THE TWINS SLAUGHTERED ALL OF NIOBE’S
CHILDREN. ZEUS TRUNED THE WEEPING NIOBE INTO A COLUMN OF STONE. SHE
CONTIUED TO WEEP, HOWEVER, AND HER TEARS BECAME A STREAM. ANTIGONE
LIKENS THE “TEAR” AND “LONELINESS” OF NIOBE’S DEATH TO HER OWN.
5. Is the “family curse” relevant to the action in ll. 35-44? Why or why not? NO, IT SEEMS AS IF
ANTIGONE IS BLAMING THE CURSE INSTEAD OF TAKING RESPONSIBILTIY FOR HER
OWN ACTIONS; YES, THE FACT THAT EVEN THE CHORUS MEMBERS MENTIONS THE
CURSES SHOWS HOW POWERFULLY MYTHS AND CURSES AFFECTED PEOPLE’S
ATTITUDES, BEHAVIOR, AND JUDGMENT.
6. Why do you think that Creon publicly reasserts that his hands are clean in this matter? HE MAY BE
TRYING TO CONVINCE THE ELDERS THAT HE IS ACTING CORRECTLY; HE MAY BE
TRYING TO CONVICE HIMSELF THAT HE HAS NO REASON TO FEEL GUILTY.
7. In Antigone’s last lines of the scene, what does she ask the gods to remember? What motives do you
think she has for making this public request? SHE ASKS THE GODS TO REMEMBER WHAT
SHE SUFFERED, WHY SHE SUFFERED, AND AT WHOSE HANDS SHE SUFFERED. HER
MOTIVES COULD INCLUDE PUBLICLY CALLING ATTENTION TO CREON’S DISDAIN
FOR THE GODS AND SEEKING HONOR FOR HER OWN CHOICES.
8. What is the main idea conveyed by Ode 4? ANTIGONE’S FATE RESEMBLES THAT OF
SEVERAL OTHER FAMOUS FIGURES IN GREEK MYTH.
5
Antigone Study Questions Scene 5 /Paean
pp. 728-732
1. Who is Teiresias? According to him, what has caused the gods’ anger? A BLIND SEER
WHO WARNS AND ANGERS CREON BY POINTING OUT THAT THE GODS ARE
ANGRY WITH CREON. ACCORDING TO HIM, THEY ARE OFFENDED BY
CREON’S LEAVING THE BODY OF POLYNEICES TO ROT INSTEAD OF BURYING
IT PROPERLY.
2. How does ll. 33-35 summarize a major theme of the play? THE CLASH BETWEEN TWO
PROUD PEOPLE, CREON AND ANTIGONE, IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE
ACTION OF THE PLAY—THE GODS ALWAYS PUNISH HUMAN PRIDE.
3. How do Creon’s words in ll. 41-48 demonstrate his pride?
THE PROPHETS AND THE LAWS OF THE GODS.
HE HOLDS HIMSELF ABOVE
4. In lines 70-84, who is the child thrust “into living night”? Who is the child “kept from the
gods below”? What does Teiresias seem to foreshadow in this speech as a whole? What lines
especially support your conclusion? ANTIGONE; PLYNEICES THAT THE MEMBERS
OF CREON’S FAMILY WILL DIE BY THE GODS’ REVENGE; “THE TIME IS NOT
FAR OFF WHEN YOU SHALL PAY BACK/CORPSE FOR CORPSE, FLESH OF YOU
OWN FLESH.” (LL. 79-80)
5. What does Teiresias advise Creon to do? What does Creon first think of Teiresias’ advice?
How does Creon change his plans after listening to Teiresias?
RELEASE ANTIGONE AND BURY POLYNEICES; HE’S ANGRY AT FIRST, BUT HE
REFLECTS ON HIS WISDOM AND DECIDES TO TAKE HIS ADVICE; HE DECIDES
TO BURY POLYNEICES FIRST, THEN RELEASE ANTIGONE.
6. In the Paean, what does the Chorus mean by asking Dionysus to come “with clement feet”?
What is ironic about this plea? TO SAVE THEBES FROM TRAGEDY, THE AUDIENCE
KNOWS THAT IT COMES TOO LATE.
6
Antigone Study Questions Exodos
pp. 733-737
1. Whom does the theme in ll.3-6 most apply to? Why? CREON, BECAUSE HE WAS
“RAISED UP” TO THE KINGSHIP AND IS ABOUT TO SUFFER A COMPLETE
DOWNTURN IN HIS FORTUNES.
2. Why does the messenger say that Creon has lost all?
DEAD, CREON’S JOY IN LIFE IS GONE.
NOW THAT CREON’S SON IS
3. What murder has been committed? How? ANTIGONE IS DEAD, HAVING HANGED
HERSELF AFTER BEING IMPRISONED BY CREON WHOM THE MESSENGER
REGARDS AS RESPONSIBLE FOR HER DEATH.
4. How did Haimon die? UPSET BY ANTIGONE’S DEATH, HE TRIES TO STAB HIS
FATHER THEN FALLS ON HIS OWN SWORD TO DIE.
5. What was done with Polyneices’ body?
REMAINS WERE BURNED.
HE WAS GIVEN A RITUAL BATH AND HIS
6. What happens to Eurydice? Whom does Creon blame for the deaths of his son and his wife?
SHE STABS HERSELF CURSING HER HUSBAND; CREON BLAMES HIMSELF
7. How has Creon changed? HE IS NO LONGER PROUD; HE IS A FATHER MOURNING
THE DEATH OF HIS SON, AS SHOWN BY HIS SARCASTIC REFERENCE TO HIS
OWN FORMER “CIVIC WISDOM.”
8. How would paraphrase the main idea of the final four lines of the play?
LIFE 9OR SUFFERING) TEACHES THE PROUD THAT IT IS BEST TO SUBMIT
THE WILL FO THE GODS FROM THE BEGINNING.
TO
9. How would you describe the major conflict in Antigone? Is the conflict between absolute
good and absolute evil, or is the conflict between opposing views of what is good? What
position does Sophocles seem to take on this question? THE MAJOR CONFLICT IS
BETWEEN 2 GOODS: RULE BY GOVT. LAWS VS. ADHERENCE TO SPIRITUAL
LAWS OR VALUES. SOPHOCLES SEEMS TO FEEL THAT STATE CANNOT
OVERRULE A HIGHER RELIGIOUS MORALITY.
Literary Terms in Studying Greek Tragedy
7
1. tragedy PLAY, NOVEL, OR OTHER NARRATIVES, DEPICTING
SERIOUS AND IMPORTANT EVENTS, IN WHICH THE MAIN
CHARAVTER COMES TO AN UNHAPPY END.
2. tragic hero THE MAIN CHARACTER USUALLY DIGNIFIED AND
COURAGEOUS OFTEN HIGH RANKING; WUSUALLY WINS SELFKNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM EVEN THOUGH HE OR SHE SUFFERS
DEAT, POSSIBLY EVEN DEATH
3. dramatic structure
INCITING INCIDENT—SOMETHING HAPPENS TO BEGIN THE
ACTION OF THE PLAY
EXPOSITION—BACKGROUND INFORMATION
RISING ACTION—STORY BUILDS AND GETS MORE EXCITING
COMPLICATION—SIGNALS THE BEGINNING OF THE MAIN
CONFLICT
CLIMAX—MOMENT OF GREATEST TENSION
REVERSAL—CHANGE OF THE HERO’S STATE OF AFFAIRS
FALLING ACTION—THE FALLOUT RESULTING FROM THE
REVERSAL OF FORTUNES
CATASTROPHE—EVENT THAT OCCURS IN WHICH THE
PROTAGONIST IS WORSE OFF THAN THE BEGINNING OF
THE PLAY
MOMENT OF LAST SUSPENSE—THE FINAL OUTCOME OF THE
CONFLICT IS IN DOUBT
4. hamartia AN ERROR IN JUDGMENT; A TRAGIC FLAW
5. hubris OVERWEENING PRIDE; ARROGANCE BEFORE THE GODS
6. fatal flaw/tragic flaw A SERIOUS CHARACTER WEAKNESS THAT
CONTRIBUTES TO THE HERO’S DOWNFALL
7. catharsis THE PURGING OF EMOTIONS OR RELIEVING OF
EMOTIONAL TENSIONS
8. tragic force FORCES BEYOND THE HERO’S CONTROL WHICH
CONTRIBUTE TO HIS/HER DOWNFALL
9. arête THE QUALITIES OF VALUE AND VIRTUE MAKING UP GOOD
CHARACTER
Antigone Family Tree
Directions: A family tree showing the relationships between parents and children in8
Oedipus the King and Antigone has been started for you, below. Fill in the blanks as
you read the play (= indicates marriage). You may want to use the extra space
around the diagram to make notes about the characters and their actions.
CREON
JOCASTA
HAIMON
MAGAREUS
ETEOCLES
POLYNEICES
JOCASTA
=
LAIUS
=
OEDIPUS
ISMENE
ANTIGONE
Antigone Plot Summation
A summary is a brief restatement of key events and ideas in your own words. It can be
a useful tool in preventing you from getting lost in details, thus helping you to see the big
picture. After each section of the play, record two or three sentences that reveal the key
events and ideas for that section.
9
Section
Summary
Prologue
The reader meets Antigone who wants to bury her brother Polyneices, just like her brother Eteocles who was
laid to rest with military honors. She feels that it is a “holy crime” that she must commit so her brother can
rest with his ancestors in Hades, despite King Creon’s rule that forbids the burial. Ismene (the weaker
sister) does not want to go against Creon’s edict because she is afraid of the penalty (death) and feels
inferior as a woman.
The reader meets the Chorus (made up of Senators) that summarizes the battle that Polyneices led against
Thebes. The Choragos (leader of the chorus) ends by reminding readers of the two brothers’ class and
ultimate death, and then the chorus speaks of the beautiful morning setting in Thebes that conveys praise
and hope.
Creon is introduced to the reader in person via this scene as he forbids any of his subjects to bury
Polyneices, who he considers to be a traitor to Thebes. The Sentry, who sputters out his bad news to the
king, provides comic relief. He informs Creon of the symbolic burial of Polyneices. Creon threatens to kill
him if he does not find the culprit. The Sentry ends the scene by almost accusing Creon of a guilty
conscience for his actions against Polyneices.
The Chorus upholds Creon’s view that law is required to protect the city from anarchy (chaos). The Chorus
praises human genius but notes mankind is unable to conquer death.
The Sentry brings Antigone to Creon and she acknowledges that she knew she was breaking his decree by
the burial, preferring God’s law. Ismene joins the group and states that she is guilty too and want to die
with Antigone, but Antigone refuses to let her “lessen my death by sharing it.” We find that Antigone is
supposed to be married to Haimon, Creon’s son, but Creon remains firm in his decision to put her to death
despite the relationship.
Chorus states that the gods will always curse the house of Oedipus for arrogance and pride.
Parados
Scene 1
Ode 1
Scene 2
Ode 2
Scene 3
Ode 3
Scene 4
Ode 4
Scene 5
Paean
Exodos
Haimon and Creon discuss Antigone’s fate, with the son at first appearing to accept the king’s edit.
However, Haimon tries to point out to his father that the public sides with Antigone but is afraid to say
anything. Haimon says that “they say no woman has ever, so unreasonably, died so shameful a death for a
generous act…” Angry, he threatens his father that one death will cause another and the men rage, with the
king wanting Antigone to be killed immediately and in front of Haimon’s eyes. The son leaves, vowing to
never see his father again. Creon calms down, decides to fee Ismene (the one whose hands are clean), but
plans to lock Antigone in a stone vault to allow nature to take its course.
The Chorus reminds us that love is glorious, but it is so powerful that neither gods nor men can control it.
Aphrodite, the goddess of love, is called merciless.
Antigone, imprisoned and nearing death, alludes to never being a bride and refers to the loneliness of
Niobe’s death. She protests her family’s curse and says she wants pity. The Chorus sympathizes but
reminds her that she made a choice on her own and must meet justice. Creon remains unmoved.
The Chorus recaps the myths of noble and half-immortal people who, like Antigone, met tragic deaths
through fate or destiny.
Teiresias (the blind prophet) tells Creon disturbing predictions and begs him to allow Polyneices’ burial, but
the king accuses the seer of taking bribes. After Teiresias leaves, the Choragos urges Creon to appease the
gods and Creon becomes contrite (full of remorse), rushing to bury Polyneices and free Antigone.
The Chorus begs Dionysus to be merciful but the audience knows it is too late. (irony)
This includes the climax and resolution. The Messenger tells Eurydice (the queen and Creon’s wife) of
Antigone’s self-hanging and Haimon’s attempt to kill Creon for revenge before he turned the knife on
himself. Eurydice leaves the scene followed by the Messenger as Creon enters with Haimon’s body. The
messenger returns with news that the queen stabbed herself, cursing Creon for both her sons’ deaths
(Haimon and Megareus). The king wishes for death as he accepts all the guilt and is led away. The
Choragos states that pride is always punished and that only submission to the gods brings wisdom and
happiness.
10
Climax: SCENE 3
CREON SENDS ANTIGONE TO THE
CATACOMBS (CAVE) TO DIE
Complication: SCENE 2 AND 3
ANTIGONE IS CAPTURED AND
BROUGHT TO CREON; HAIMON
AND CREON ARGUE ABOUT THE
FATE OF ANTIGONE; CREON
STANDS FIRM
Rising Action: SCENE 1
CREON MAKES THE DEATH THREAT
CLEAR TO ALL; SENTRY REPORTS
THAT SOMEONE HAS ATTEMPTED
TO BURY POLYNEICES
Exposition: PARADOS
CHORUS GIVES BACKGROUND INFO
ON THE BATTLE BETWEEN THE
BROTHERS AND SETS THE TONE
FOR SCENE 1
Inciting Moment: PROLOGUE
THE SISTERS ARGUE ABOUT
WHETHER TO FOLLOW THE LAWS
OF THE GODS OR THE EDICT OF
CREON
Reversal (Turning Point): SCENE 5
TEIRESIAS ADVISES CREON TO
FREE ANTIGONE AND BURY
POLYNEICES OR FACE TRAGEDY
HIMSELF; THE CHORUS REJOICES
IN CREON’S AGREEMENT
Falling Action: EXODOS
A MESSENGER TELLS THE CHORUS
BOTH ANTIGONE AND HAIMON
HAVE KILLED THEMSELVES
Catastrophe: EXODOS
EURYDICE HEARS ABOUT THE
DEATH OF HAIMON AND KILLS
HERSELF
Moment of Last Suspense: EXODOS
CREON BLAMES HIMSELF FOR THE
DEATH OF HIS WIFE AND SON AND
BEGS FOR AN EARLY DEATH
11
Antigone: Scene 1, Ode 1
Internal Struggle
Do you sympathize with some characters and how they resolve internal conflicts, but
not with others? Under each name, list an internal conflict with which that character
struggles and write your reasons for supporting or disagreeing with the character’s
resolution of the conflict.
ANTIGONE
THE SENTRY
CONFLICT:
BURY VS. HONOR DECREE
CONFLICT:
TELL OR NOT TELL CREON
YOUR VIEW:
BURY
YOUR VIEW:
TELL
ISMENE
KING CREON
CONFLICT:
HELP ANTIGONE VS. NOT HELP
CONFLICT:
LET BURY OR NOT LET BURY
YOUR VIEW:
SHOULD HAVE HELPED; SHE IS
WEAK
YOUR VIEW:
SHOULD HAVE ALLOWED
BURIAL; TOO MUCH PRIDE
1. What did you think about the Choragos’s words in line 113 of Scene 1 when he says, “I have been
wondering, King; can it be that the gods have done this?” Did your opinion of the Choragos
change after hearing this speech? Why or why not?
YES, THEY APPEAR TO “GENTLY” TELL CREON HE IS IN THE WRONG; THEY SEEM
TO BE TAKING A SIDE…AFRAID TO GO AGAINST AUTHORITY.
2. Would you feel differently about King Creon if his first speech had occurred at the beginning of 12
the
play, rather than after the dialogue between Antigone and Ismene?
YES, WOULD HAVE SIDED WITH HIM FIRST
Antigone: Characters’ Motives
In Antigone, the actions of Antigone, Creon, and Ismene have serious and lasting
consequences. Why do these characters behave as they do? The inner drive or
impulse that makes a person act in a certain way is called motive. Like people,
characters in a play also have motives. You can understand the action of a play if you
identify with the characters’ motives.
Questions
What is Creon’s motive for
forbidding Polyneices’
burial?
What is Creon’s motive for
arresting Ismene as well?
What is Ismene’s motive for
accepting Antigone’s crime?
What is Antigone’s motive
for refusing Ismene’s help?
Motive
THOUGHT HE WAS A
TRADER
FEELS SHE COVERED
FOR ANTIGONE; AFTER
ALL, THEY’RE SISTERS.
WANTS TO SHARE IN
THE HONOR AND
PRIDE; DOES NOT
WANT TO BE ALONE
MATTER OF PRIDE;
Support Evidence
SCENE 1, LINE 42
“POLYNEICES, WHO BROKE HIS
EXILE TO COME BACK WITH
FIRE AND SWORD AGAINST
HIS NATIVE CITY AND THE
SHRINES OF HIS FATHERS’
GODS WHOSE ONE IDEA WAS
TO SPILL BLOOD.”
SCENE 2, LINE 89
“HER MIND’S A TRAITOR;
CRIMES KEPT IN THE DARK.”
SCENE 2, LINE 137
“DO YOU REFUSE ME,
ANTIGONE? I WANT TO DIE
WITH YOU; I TOO HAVE A
DUTY THAT I MUST
DISCHARGE TO THE DEATH.”
SCENE 2, LINE 135
“THE DEAD MAN AND THE
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WANTS THE LABEL OF
MARTYR FOR HERSELF
GODS WHO RULE THE DEAD
KNOW WHO ACT THIS WAS.
WORDS ARE NOT FRIENDS.”
Antigone: Imagery
Quote
Choragos: Parados, lines 8-13
“Polyneices, their commander, roused them with
windy phrases. He the wild eagle screaming
insults above our land. His wings their shields of
snow, his crest their marshaled helms.”
Imagery Interpretation
WILD OPPONENT AND ENEMY OF HIS
NATIVE CITY
Creon to the Chorus: Scene 1, lines 11-35
“I have summoned you here this morning because
I know that I can depend upon you…No one
values friendship more highly than I; but we must
remember that friends made a the risk of
wrecking our Ship are not real friends at all.”
STATE OF SOCIETY AND ITS LAWS
Haimon to Creon: Scene 3, lines 80-85
“In flood time you can see how some trees bend,
and because they bend, even their twigs are safe.
While stubborn trees are torn up, roots and all.
And the same thing happens in sailing: make
your sheet fast, never slacken and over you go,
head over heels and under: and there’s your
voyage.”
TELLS CREON IT’S WISE TO BE FLEXIBLE;
IF CREON IS INFLEXIBLE, HE WIL BE
UPROOTED AND OVERTURNED AS KING
Choragos: Scene 4, lines 1-4
“But I can no longer stand in awe of this, nor
seeing what I see, keep back my tears. Here is
Antigone, passing to that chamber, where all find
ANTIGONE BEING TAKE TO JAIL TO DIE
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sleep at last.”
Antigone to the Chorus: Scene 4, lines 57-66
“O tomb, vaulted bridal bed in eternal rock, soon
I shall be with my own again where Persephone
welcomes their ghosts underground, and I shall
see my father again, and you mother, and dearest
Polyneices. Dearest indeed, to me, since it was
my hand that washed him clean and poured the
ritual wine: and my reward is death before my
time.”
SHE WILL DIE AS A RESULT OF HER
CRIME, AND BE REUNITED WITH HER
FAMILY IN THE AFTERLIFE.
Literary Focus: Irony
Irony is the contrast between what is actually true or what will actually happen and
what the characters say, believe, or expect. Use the character below to illustrate the
use of irony in the final scenes of the play. For each line listed, summarize the ironic
contrast.
Quote
Explanation of the Irony
Creon’s Proclamation of the edict:
“I am aware, of course, that no ruler can
expect complete loyalty from his subjects
until he has been tested in office.”
He has no loyalty whatsoever; many do not
believe in what he is doing.
Creon at Antigone’s arrest:
“The inflexible heart breaks first, the
toughest iron cracks first, and the wildest
horses bend their necks at the pull of the
smallest curb.”
Ironically, all of these words apply to Creon
himself and not Antigone.
Creon to Haimon:
“You’ll never marry her while she lives.”
He marries her in “death.” They’ll be together
eternally in the afterlife. He commits suicide
because of his father.
15
Creon to his servants:
“Bring Axes, servants. Come with me to the
She is already dead when proclaims this; it is too
Antigone: Tragic Hero or Heroine
Who is the tragic figure in Antigone? Some argue that Creon is the real tragic hero. To support their
position, they offer the following evidence: Creon undergoes a dramatic change, whereas Antigone’s fate is
determined in the first scene and she disappears from stage halfway through the play. The deaths of Haimon
and Eurydice are meaningful only to Creon, not to Antigone. And it is the body of Creon’s son that is carried
onstage, not Antigone’s body.
The classical scholar, H.D.F. Kitto, has suggested that Antigone is built on a “double foundation,”
and that the play’s “center of gravity does not lie in one person, but between two.” Kitto says that “of the
two, the significant one to Sophocles was always Creon.” What do you think? Are there two tragic figures in
this play or only one? If you think there is only one, who is it? To help you decide, apply each of the
following questions to Antigone and Creon.
Questions
1. What error in judgment or frailty in character
did the tragic figure display?
2. At what point in the play might the character
have saved himself/herself from a tragic
downfall?
3. Define the character’s downfall. How did
he/she change during the course of the play?
4. What emotions did the character’s downfall
arouse in you?
5. Which character appears to be more committed
to a principle?
6. Which character’s fall is brought about by
frailty of character?
Antigone
PRIDE; VALUED DIVINE
LAW OVER HUMAN LAW
TRIED TO NEG0TIATE WITH
CREON OVER DECREE
TOO MUCH PRIDE; GOES
AGAINST PUBLIC
OPINION; DICTATOR
CONSIDERED PUBLIC
OPINION AND ALLOWED
BURIAL
HEADSTRONG/PROUD
PROUD
SYMPATHY
DISLIKE
MORE COMMITTED
NOT COMMITTED
ANTIGONE, BUT COMES
WITH CONSEQUENCES
STRUGGLES WITH
CHOICES; “WISHY,
WASHY”
MULTIPLE DEATHS
AFFECT HIS LIFE
7. Which character has more freedom in the
choices he/she makes?
8. Which character’s fall is brought about by
Creon
BURIAL CHOICES
error in judgment?
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9. Which character suffers more?
10. Which character arouses the greater pity or
EVERY CRITICIZES
HIM/CHOICE
STRUGGLES/ MULTIPLE
DEATHS
MORE TO LOSE
fear? Why?
11. Which character has a moment of recognition
or discovery?
12. Which character seems to be the center of all
CHANGES CHARACTER;
ALLOWS BURIAL
“CHANGES TUNE” AFTER
SEER
CREON
conflicts?
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