Antigone

In the replies below – or in your own blog post – discuss your interpretations of Jean Anouilh’s Antigone.

Text:

Thesis work:  Surviving Antigone – Anouilh, Adaptation, and the Archive

Creon in Jean Anouilh’s Antigone: The Ancient Tyrant in Modern DressA Study 

Questions  – Study Guide

Sophocles’ Antigone – Summary Video:

Essential Questions_Antigone

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18 thoughts on “Antigone

  1. To whom it may concern,

    I would like to take Anouilh’s Antigone and focus distinctly on the character of Creon for a moment. To me, Creon is one of the most beautifully realistic and vivid characters I have ever had the pleasure of coming across in literature. Creon, as per our discussion, is, in-essence, the personification of the human condition. He is the struggle of humanity, the struggle that requires us to make decisions between what the heart desires and what the mind knows. His battle in Antigone is a battle of human emotion and sensitivity. Whereas he loves and cares for Antigone as a man, he is also the leader of men, a title that obliges him to serve the masses with an impartial eye. Therefore his struggle is characterized by his responsibility towards thousands versus his feelings towards one. And herein is why Anouilh deserves great applause for his characterization of humanity; he was able to capture and distill the raw power of human emotion through Creon. The fact that Creon struggles to make a choice when, objectively, the choice is so clear is exactly why we empathize with Creon at all. When the lenses of rationality are applied, the situation is thus: Should the King carry through the rule of law to execute a criminal? Seeing as his position makes him accountable to the men and women of Thebes, the answer is plainly yes. Thousands will be kept safe from a revolt if only one dies. The fact that she is a royal is even more reason to carry out the punishment, so the people may know that no one is above the law. And yet, the audience recognizes that it is not so simple an answer. It is this struggle that the audience is privy to that makes Creon such a powerful character to us: his inability to sleep upon his necessary sins, his revelation of the bare-knuckled truth, his desire to please everyone, it is these very traits that allow us to see ourselves in Creon, making him one of the great characters of modern literature.

    So I offer this as a question: If we look at Creon’s situation and realize his humanity, does Antigone not become a villain. She forces the king to have to choose between two great sins, full well knowing that whatever he picks will leave him in ruins either publicly, or emotionally. We have talked about Antigone being a symbol of Fate, but we have only discussed her as an angel of Fate. In Creon’s very human lens of perception, is Antigone not a devil of Fate? Is she not a representation of destruction. Think: Everywhere she goes, Antigone catalyzes destruction and ruin. Why do we view her as noble and ethereal when we see the torment she leaves upon the humans in this play?

    1. In reply to Siddarth:

      From the last question you posed in regards to this discussion, I believe the way in which we view Antigone, or Creon, or the entire message of the play itself, boils down to perspective. Perspective, I believe, plays a major role in a lot of factors regarding this piece – whether Antigone is a heroine or a tormentor, whether The Chorus were God(s) of some sort or a representation of Creon’s conscience, and so on.

      I believe modern readers, such as ourselves, find it very easy to sympathize with Antigone. She is a tragic hero for many of us, willing to die for an unknown cause and catalyze future events for the better or for the worse (that which is truly unknown to us). We could even possibly refer to her as the ‘underdog’ in this context – a woman in ancient times, in a position of little to no power, rises above opposing forces (the state, specifically, in this case) in order to make the decisions she wishes to make.

      However, after researching the playwright Sophocles further, I found he didn’t view the state as an all-powerful, detached, anonymous force, but rather something considerably smaller and more human. In the version that we read in class, the majority of Creon’s decisions are based on logic, a fact which I believe should be respected considering the power he possessed. Were he to react differently to such a situation, the validity of his authority would be brought into question and, ultimately, lead to more problems for both Creon and, possibly, the city of Thebes.

      Speaking more personally, I am quite indecisive in whether or not Antigone was the noble being, of noble purpose, that she was painted as in class. When I first read the text, quite honestly, I did not like her character at all – I found there was no purpose to her actions, I thought these actions to be quite irrational, and it was difficult for me to find much depth in Antigone beyond what was presented in front of us.

      To me, this was the logic-based perspective.

      With the discussion we had in class, however, my initial impressions of the text and the character of Antigone changed drastically. There was now a purpose behind her actions, an otherworldly purpose, and every word that was spoken by her seemed to imply that she possessed an overwhelming acceptance of fate and a character of self-fulfillment.

      To me, this was the emotion-based perspective.

      Based simply on how one may have read this text, or how they perceived a certain character, or even the morals they themselves value highly, it is highly possible for Antigone to be viewed as a villain of sorts. On the other hand, it is also completely plausible for the reader to see her as a tragic, otherworldly hero, who sacrificed her like for the greater good.

      To me, your question can be answered with one word: perspective.

      — Claire B.

  2. Dear Siddharth,

    I agree with and applaud you for your emphatic teachings on the humanity of Creon, yet I would like to counter you, for a particular part of “Antigone” has been itching at me for the past couple of days and you have created the perfect platform for that notion to flourish.

    In many ways, Creon does represent the personification of the human spirit – that I wholly agree with you. I love that you put it in this way: “His battle in Antigone is a battle of human emotion and sensitivity.” His folly is so deeply rooted in what we all struggle to answer: What, by definition, makes a human? To many, and to Creon, the definition of a human lies in their moral code.

    The notion that has been itching at me for days has been the question of page 57. Creon describes the animalistic nature of men, intending to say, I believe, that humans have an unwavering determination to serve the whole of mankind. Yet his argument makes me wonder what kind of human spirit we are talking about. Yes, there is the determination to look out for one’s fellow man, to “move in droves, nudging one another onwards”, a vigor both animals and humans do share; begging the question: are we animals firstly and humans after? There is also the interpretation that this kind of interdependency acts as a form of communism regarding our beliefs. Do our most basic animalistic tendencies over-ride our richly human qualities?

    It is here that I must agree with you on the whole, for in the case of the deplorable Creon, his empathy and his intentions are honourable. Yet to Antigone, whose needs are so little and non-aligned to the needs of Creon’s righteousness, he cannot morally grant her the death she wishes because he is so narrowly focused on what symbolically her death would mean to the definition of humanity. To this, Antigone responds, “Animals, eh, Creon? What a king you could be if only men were animals!” Antigone, by this, means to contest Creon’s belief that the definition of a human lies in their moral code. Sarcastically, she ultimately argues that a moral code is too basic – that even animals have morality. Antigone expects more from humans; she refuses for herself and others to simply be “nudged along”. She rejects the ideas of ethics and of animal happiness for her own ethereal soul knows that divine things await.

    I believe that you and I are in a battle of prophecy. You see Antigone as a Devil of Fate, yet I do idolize her and would dare to call her an Angel. I do not believe that Antigone is the villain of this play, and I do not believe that this play is a tragedy of the human spirit, destroyed by Antigone. The torment she inflicts is not because of the maliciousness of time, destiny, or the Gods. The devastation left in her wake is ironically the awakening of the human spirit to the rapturous meaning that lies in eternal life and enlightenment, that to which I wholly believe.

    Sincerely yours,
    Ali

  3. Dear Sidd,

    While I believe what you have offered to us has a lot of validness to it, I would present this to you as well. When we examine a text such as Antigone, the entire text speaks to the human condition. This includes Creon, but also includes all other members of the cast. And this includes Antigone.

    Now I know we as a class described her as ethereal and pure, the important thing to note is that she is in fact just a woman. She may represent other things, but she is also a human. And this means she faces human problems and emotions. We see this very plainly in the scene where she speaks to Haemon. Here we see conflict, doubt, and uncertainty in Antigone, thus proving she is capable of a spectrum of emotions. This is not the nature of a one-dimensional character solely written in as symbol. So by this logic we must conclude Antigone is human. And furthermore, what I would offer is that, like Creon, Antigone represents a part of the human condition as well. She is our desire to bring about change. To shape her world around her. She is the desire to be more than just a confused child. Such a desire is an integral part of the theory of the human condition. Ergo, Antigone represents the human condition as much as Creon.

    Now let us bring her into her interaction with Creon. Now Sidd, I do agree that Creon represents the human condition and all of its paradoxes. But where you loose me is when you speak of Antigone as a villain. The reason being, when you speak of humanistic characters, how can you label either as ‘good’ or ‘bad’? Conflicted yes, but ‘bad’? When we speak of characters as complex as these, I would offer to label any with such simple labels is to ignore all they represent. The whole logic of the human condition lies in the theory of humans being reckless, conflicted, problematic beings. This means that Antigone, like Creon, is neither good nor bad but rather simply human.

    Now, as for the idea of Antigone as a tormentor, I would offer this: she never directly causes anyone pain. Pain is indirectly brought by her, but she never actually hurts anyone but herself. She acts and others react. No one killed Haemon other than himself. Likewise, no one forced Antigone to bury her brother. She did that for herself because she wanted to make a change around her. Others simply responded to it. And she refuses to let Creon save her, not because she doesn’t see the good intent, but rather because she knows she is a vehicle to make change. We see this when she tells Creon to ‘hurry up because she can’t be brave for much longer.’

    This entire play, Antigone is terrified. She is terrified because she is human and she knows it. She knows she cannot be anything more than an a human trying to bring change. But she also knows if she does not act no one else will. This is what I would offer is the reason there is so much turmoil around her. She is the action no one else is willing to take, and through her action she creates a ripple effect. Can the ripples be gruesome at times? Absolutely. But were they also necessary to bring about change and make a point? The answer is also yes. We see this in the way Antigone shakes Creon. She unsettles him, and such unsettling also prompts him to bring the change out that is needed to quell the growing anger of his people.

    Now all this being said, I would like to see your rebuttal Sidd, or anyone’s for that matter on how Antigone could perhaps be a villain? I’m interested to see where that train of thought could go as I think its a fascinating one.

    Respectfully,
    Megan

    1. Hello Class,

      I would like to disagree with what Megan has said regarding the humanity of Antigone. I believe that Antigone is not only a being of ethereal presence, but represents the immovability of fate. I will attempt to demonstrate this through the ideas of sleep and rest.
      In Antigone, sleep and rest are unified instruments through which the principal characters, predominantly Creon and Antigone, are developed. Towards the end of Scene 3, Antigone asks Ismene to sleep, as she looks pale with weariness. When Ismene replies by asking what Antigone will do, Antigone responds by saying that she doesn’t feel like going to bed. However, in a 2002 translation of Annilouih’s Antigone, Antigone’s response to Ismene’s query is that she has no desire to sleep. This line struck me because I believe that through Antigone’s rejection of sleep, two things have been highlighted, the first of which being Antigone’s ethereal presence. There is something undeniably human about our need for rest and for sleep. Antigone, however, exemplifies through lack of sleep that she isn’t held to the same standards of basic human needs as the rest of the characters are- notably Creon, who longs for sleep and with it, the lifting of reluctant responsibility as king.
      It is obvious that Creon is a weary human who longs for rest, shown especially at the end of the play when Creon and the Chorus reflect that Antigone, Haemon, and Eurydice now sleep in death. Creon, at this point, says out loud that it must be good to sleep. I agree that Creon is the embodiment of what it means to be human, and with this in mind, it makes sense that he so longs for sleep, as it is a human need. It also makes sense for a man who has lost his loved ones and has betrayed his better nature for his duty to wait for his death and embrace the sleep that death brings with open arms.
      Another thing that Antigone’s lack of desire to sleep signifies lies in the symbolism of sleep. I would argue that in points of the play, though not necessarily every point, sleep and rest represent temptation of the human spirit. Antigone’s expressions that she has no desire to sleep, or that she doesn’t feel as though she will sleep, can be translated to show that she is undeterred by temptation, and by extension this can apply to the idea that Antigone, as a personification of fate, is unwavering in her path. Sleep is not a part of the destiny that will lead her to her eventual, fateful death, and therefore she rejects it in her immovability from the path that she was meant to walk. This signifies that she is not meant to sleep at that time; for Antigone, sleep equals death. It is not her time to rest until it is her time to die. Antigone refuses sleep because she cannot waver from the path that is destined for her, and yet when she dies, when she is released from her fate, only then she may rest. The other characters in the play, however, sleep when they will because sleep to them is nothing more than a rejuvenating escape from the world.
      As another point of interest, I want to draw attention to the deaths of Antigone, Haemon, and Eurydice. Antigone died for a purpose that may not be clear to others but is clear to her. Haemon died because of love for Antigone, and Eurydice died because of love for her son. The deaths of Haemon and Eurydice were deaths of passion, deaths of the blood that grounds them to the earth and solidifies them as human. Antigone’s death, however, is far removed from theirs. She dies hanging, like an angel whose halo fell to constrict her neck. It is bloodless, is it deliberate, and it is purposeful, which emphasises the point that Antigone is not bound to the earth and to humanity but to fate, even as she sleeps in death.
      Antigone as a person, however, doesn’t matter. If her death were to be considered a scream, it wouldn’t be the words that she screamed that would matter- it would be the scream itself. I would argue that Antigone’s reason for dying is not obvious is because Antigone’s motivation, her thoughts, and her feelings are irrelevant. She is but a player on a chessboard; it is Antigone’s actions, not Antigone herself, that matters. Antigone’s death was foretold and was meant to be as a way to spark change. This, I would argue, makes her an instrument of sorts. Antigone’s purpose in life is to catalyze change with her death, not to be human.
      Megan, I want to acknowledge the validity of your point that Antigone, while symbolistic of ethereal and pure things, is still a human. But she is not human in the ordinary sense; unlike Creon, who represents humanity is all of its moral and mental conflicts and contradictions, Antigone is entirely self-assured and resolute. This is illustrated through the conversation between Creon and Antigone- Creon responds with monologues in which he laments of his own complex perspective, while Antigone, who is set upon the path of her fate, voices short responses of quiet confidence. Even when her reasons for her own death change, Antigone is aware of and unwavering in her fate to die. This, to me, exemplifies that Antigone represents the strength and inescapability of one’s eventual fate, despite circumstance. Though the actual character of Antigone is a human, it is clear that the mindset through which she works is not of this world; no self-indulgent, survival oriented human of her age and status would be so wise and so accepting of her own death.
      As well, I believe you mentioned that Antigone’s desire to bring about change is one of the things that defines her as being human. I would counter that by saying that the desire to catalyze change is not innately human and is not something that is a natural part of the human condition. It is because of things we perceive to be ‘wrong’ or ‘inadequate’ or ‘destructive’ that we find the desire to change; if all was good and fair in our perception, we would not feel compelled to change society. Therefore, I would offer that the desire to create change, for better or for worse, is the result of individual perspective and of what society does collectively, not as a result of being an inherent part of the human spirit. Through this, I main that Antigone symbolizes the immovability of fate and is representative of a higher force. It is exemplified through the sleep of Antigone’s death, and it is exemplified through her resistance towards rest until she dies.
      Having said all of this, I am incredibly curious to hear the opinions of others about this. I am particularly interested to hear what you have to say, Megan, as I am opposing what you specifically have laid out.

      Infinite Love and Gratitude to All,
      Ziyana

  4. Dear Siddharth

    *please ignore my previous comment. It was not worded in the manner I intended.

    You have presented an interesting notion that seems true when one looks through “Creon’s very human lens of perception,” however, I would offer that Fate, when viewed through the eyes of man, will always have a negative connotation as it is something beyond one’s control. It is true that Fate insinuates mayhem but that is not its purpose. In other words, since Antigone is a representation of Fate within the play, it is important to note that she is ruled by Fate, but not Fate itself. Her actions are driven by a greater understanding that is rooted within her duty as a servant to Fate. Yes, a servant. Antigone is simply knitting her circle to a close through this duty that she knows must be completed. One might argue that this is how Antigone and Creon are intertwined-they are both completing a circle of duty, but from opposite ends, ultimately clashing with each other as the play comes to a close. However the desire for one to carry out their duty is part of the human spirit, which proves that Antigone is also victim to the human condition. Not only that, but Antigone felt passion and love towards Haemon, and the fact that she went against such strong human desire by ending it, reinforces the idea that she is noble in her cause. Even in Romeo and Juliet we see that passion overrides any other emotion or duty, as that is part of the human condition, however, Antigone went against that passion for something greater, which is the very definition of nobility.

    On another note, it is true that the human spirit has the potential for both good and evil, however, I feel as though Antigone did good through evil. That is why it hurt her to tell Haemon that they could never be, as she knew that it brought him pain. Nonetheless, she knew that her fate lied in her death.

    All in all, Antigone was not an angel because she brought happiness and love to the people around her. Antigone was an angel because she opposed the human desire within herself in an effort to complete her duty.

    With high regards,
    Sania

  5. To all,

    First of all, as Megan said, that Socratic discussion about Antigone was one of the best that I have ever experienced. Not only the energy, but the sheer amount of revelation and discovery, as each layer of the story was uncovered, peeled back to reveal an endless amount of interpretations was touching. I’ll admit that it was impossible for me to stay atop the entire thing, I was lost, every once in a while, lost in how fast the details were being uncovered, to a point where I was madly taking notes, and only now reviewing them, and reliving the energy of that day.

    A particular point that I found fascinating (possibly because I managed to stay on top of it all) was the way that Antigone’s role in the play was discussed. It goes back to the point when it was mentioned that Antigone’s only role in the play was to teach others about herself, to almost feel the need to prove a point to the city of Thebes. This role was the embodiment of her, her ‘fate’, although she did not consciously recognize it. This lead to our proposed thesis that nobody can draw Antigone from her fate, the fate to be above, almost divine to others. This is seen again an again, as her death is a clean and sophisticated one, leaving her hanging above the earth that she has been forced to live on. Haemon, however, “…he stabbed himself and lay down beside Antigone, embracing her in a pool of blood.”

    Embracing her in a pool of blood.
    Embracing.
    Embracing. To “hold (someone) closely in one’s arms, especially as a sign of affection.”

    Trying to grab a hold of her, hold her closely, bring her down to earth. Haemon is dead, and even his last act, to kill himself because of his love was not enough to drag Antigone down to earth. Her fate is already decided, and no human effort will ever alter that. After all, “The gods have their hand in every story”. Haemon has always been a weak character, and his attempt to bring Antigone back with him can be interpreted as an effort to almost defy the gods. As a result, anyone after him has their messy, painful, bloody death. I’m wondering if it is a fair interpretation to say that (at least back then) the author is trying to tell us that the gods bestow a fate upon you when you are born, and there is nothing, whether by blood or by love, that will change that.
    “God has a plan bigger for me than I have one of myself. This entire world, in fact.” – Anonymous

    Keep up the great comments!
    ~Areeb

  6. Siddharth,

    I just have to say wow, that I actually thought of more or less the same thing, the part of Antigone aside. I always saw Creon as not one person but two people. First you have King Creon the man who is obligated to his duties, then you have Creon, the man who is the uncle of Antigone, a family member. Now I’ve seen that throughout the play that these two “personalities” let’s say have an essential conflict, for example, Creon did not want to kill or punish Antigone for trying to bury her brother, but as a King he was obligated to make her suffer the consequences. I find it somewhat ironic because you have the man in the play with utmost power, but he is powerless, and a victim of his own actions. The result of him not burying Antigone’s brother resulted in a domino-like effect causing the death of not only his niece, but his wife and son as well. That being said I always thought he was ruled by the fates (the chorus, cited Hope) because this play is a tragedy after all, and no one ever can escape their pre-determined fate in a tragedy. Going back to the point where he was the most powerful man but at the same time powerless, though he ruled Thebes, he was ruled by the fates. It was not he that decided to rule Thebes, he was obliged to, the fates have handed him the throne. Creon’s human side directly conflicts and/or suffers the consequences of his King-side’s actions, the title of king, is the embodiment of fate. Fate rules Thebes, not Creon. And he suffers directly because he is possessed by fate through this mantle and his duties, Creon I’d say is the real victim of this play, he is a victim of fate via his actions, but at the same time this isn’t his fault. After all this is a tragedy

    ~Nilave

  7. I would like to offer this:

    Our fate is our story, destiny is. Full in three. Though some be left bitterly; to be dead in life, rather than alive in death. With life comes pain, but death brings peace. And when rest comes to one loved, more pain is to the living. But who could attest to this better than Creon.

    People say Creon is the villain of this play and Antigone the heroine or victim, but in truth the roles are reversed. Creon was abandoned by all, thanks to Antigone. She had stolen his love, his pride, and his joy. And Ismene was soon to follow. He would be alone to serve this town for the better of Thebes. That is all he had been doing. Thebes needed someone to look to, someone to honor, Creon could have made it himself; but Martyrs often have more power that living Saints. And the illusion of having a martyr heralded was uniting. One little girl had ruined his life, and slowly was ruining his order in Thebes. Creon was right to not die, his irresponsibility would become a less capable persons responsibility. He was left because Antigone had dragged along Haemon his son into the fantasy. And Haemon even when she died tried to join her. Slaying himself and embracing Antigone’s stupidity and flippant fantasy trying to grasp, her floating form. Haemon had tried to root her in the world, but then he followed her. She used the pathway of attempting to bury her brother, to just find a reason to die. But she still had no reason. To bring change, what good does it do to kill yourself, it just makes your position seem hopeless, giving up.
    Three die, and three are entangled by her fate.

  8. Dear Class,

    I found Antigone to be a fascinating character within the play, and through the socratic discussion of the Antigone, this allurement only enhanced.

    Antigone as a character is seemingly wise for her youthful age. She is one who is placed above everyone else within the confinements of Thebes. Her interpretations upon the “grayness of the world” when she awoke served to differentiate her immediately. Her perception of beauty was not found in the glorious hues of the world, but rather the dull moments one disregards, as sleep deems to be of more importance.

    Due to her being born because of the incense of her father fornicating with his mother, within royalty, Antigone maintains a certain status though she is suggested to be incompetent to even do so. Her birth deems her to the likeness of filth, yet we notice how she through being born because of an act of revulsion, causes her to remain capable of holding a striking note of purity.

    Characters such as Haemon and Creon’s wife die through slashes of the knife, their deaths are harsh and cause the spillage of blood. But Antigone simply hangs, no blood is leaked. Though she is predetermined to be the most impure, she does not seek to acquire riddance of the obscene blood that fulfills her. She is unable to understand the human condition because she is above it, the emotions that cause angst to Haemon and Creon fail to evoke responses in her. Therefore, Antigone is the only character that recognizes her own fate, she accepts her death, and her prolonging of this fate was due to her inability to reason what she would die for. Yet when she realizes her death will become the catalyst of change within Thebes, she slyly commits suicide. Her death becomes the peace she was yearning for, as throughout the play she desperately seeks an excuse for her death, a simple justification. As Creon proves her devotion to death because of Polynices to be illegitimate, Antigone desperately grasps onto Creon’s mention of happiness as she takes upon a pessimistic tone.

    We are able to see fate represented throughout the text as a piece of string. Creon’s wife only killed herself after she was finished knitting, which is known to be a precise manipulation of yarn. The calculating fates of Haemon and Antigone had to be executed before its effect could cause death upon Eurydice. Yet we notice how Eurydice kills herself through the act of cutting herself. In contrast, we notice Antigone hangs herself from the cord upon her robe, which proves her control over her own fate. This is also proved through Antigone’s steadfast belief in her own death, as she “never doubted for an instant that Creon would put her to death.” Though Antigone never married Haemon, she foreshadowed that she would be united with him in their “bridal bed,” which becomes the blood Haemon lies in when he succumbs to death, and through her hanging, Antigone ties the knot.

    Antigone also overcomes the weakness that women were categorized to be during her time. Antigone is compared to her father Oedipus and being rebellious almost as if she were a man, and calls Creon’s hope “female hope” in which she faults and disregards her own sex. She almost sardonically mentions the feebleness associated with women, representing her otherworldliness, as she is stronger than the likeness of man due to how her arm “does not hurt anymore” when it is restrained by Creon.

    I believe that Antigone is the embodiment of fate and the people of Thebes become the change her death brought the onset of, which in turn gives Antigone a peaceful sleep of being content. Though she is noted to be ugly, Antigone becomes exquisite during the moment of devastation.

    Sincerely,
    Sadia

  9. Hey Hunnisetters,

    I would like to offer another interpretation of Antigone, as after the Socratic discussion with the idea of Antigone being a representation and character which embodies fate, I began to think a lot about fate and destiny. The conversation that followed the next day about fate and destiny further developed my thoughts towards the interaction between fate, destiny, and humankind.

    What is fate?
    the development of events beyond a person’s control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power.
    What is destiny?
    the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future; fate.

    These are both dictionary definitions of fate and destiny. What is interesting, however, is the fact that it is arguable that fate and destiny are two distinct, separated concepts, despite the dictionary using fate to define destiny.

    Personally, I believe that fate and destiny are both the same species, but of two different breeds. Both of the concepts are similar, but each have small genetic differences that set them apart. In my mind, I have automatically referred to fate as the development of circumstances in a present voice, or things that are happening that will effect us directly in the very near future. Destiny, on the other hand, is used in regards to the final end result, or where one might find themselves when all is said and done. Fate leads to destiny. Fate is composed of those incredible coincidences, interactions, and unexplained experiences that then lead to and determine one’s destiny. Some argue that fate and destiny are set in stone, and predetermined. But I would like to argue that fate and destiny are directly influenced by the choices one makes. Perhaps this could explain the indecisive tendencies of humankind. When one is in charge of or given the opportunity to make a choice, even the simplest of choices, whether they are aware of it or not, they are altering but continually determining their fate, and eventually determining their eventual destiny.

    In Antigone, we see her making choices that continually set the stage for, lead to, and establish her eventual demise. From the very beginning, when she chose to take her shoes off (thus dirtying her feet) when going outside, it causes the Nurse to question Antigone’s motives for going outside, which leads to discussion. Her decision to initially lie, but then proceed to confess to the Nurse gets the plot rolling. Even unconsciously, when Antigone entered that room at that exact time, it was fate that she and the Nurse crossed paths at that exact moment, and the events that occurred then (as a result of the initial path-crossing of Antigone and the Nurse) helped make up Antigone’s eventual destiny.

    Both the unconscious and conscious decisions we make as humans, whether life-changing or simplistic, and no matter the extremity of the choices we make, they are all life-altering. I think the subconscious mind knows that each choice we make, each step we take, and each concept we accept and choose to believe, determines our fate, which then determines our destiny. I also think that this is one of the main reasons people are indecisive and skeptical of the choices that they make, and the choices others make; that they are fearful of making the wrong decision that will lead their fate down the wrong path, which will then lead to an undesired destiny.

    So tying everything together, I think that in addition to representing many other ideas and concepts, Antigone is also a representation of fate, destiny, and choice. All of her choices, even the most minuscule, make up her fate, which her destiny is determined by. I think her eventual demise could symbolize the fear that people feel towards making decisions, as people are fearful of changing their fate and their eventual destiny negatively (Antigone’s death might be interpreted by some as a negative thing, or a “failed” destiny as the idea of death often fills one with the fear of not knowing what is to come next, and the real-life proof that nothing lasts forever). People are fearful of being incompetent because they have not fulfilled all that they wanted to or that they have not accomplished all that they had set out to, they unconsciously are fearful of making the wrong decision, even when it comes to the simplest of choices, because they know that those choices are what alters their fate and destiny.

    Sorry, I am not sure if I sufficiently expressed my opinion and I am sorry if you find it unclear or contradicting! Hopefully that is not the case, but my apologies of it is.

    Sincerely,

    Tay

  10. To all,

    Along with the others who commented previously, I do agree that Creon represents the human emotion and what it really means to be human. However, after our Socratic discussion in class, I can’t even begin to look at Antigone as a villain.

    Yes, she is the cause for the ruin and destruction of lives in Thebes, but as Megan said, she did not intentionally hurt anyone except for herself. Her motive, which was clear from the beginning of the play onward, was to die. I don’t think she even considered that Haemon would kill himself as a result of her actions. I would like to believe that even if Antigone had not killed herself, the outcomes for the other characters would still be the same because of the idea of fate and destiny. Antigone is simply fulfilling her role as a human, just as Creon is.

    For me personally, the highlight of the Socratic discussion we had was when we looked at the idea of Antigone wanting to remain pure, even though she is a product of incest. This in itself should categorize her as dirty blood, which is extremely ironic since she is the only character who never spills a drop of blood when she dies. Furthermore, in a scene with the guards, she says something along the lines of being okay with dying but not wanting to be touched. This also speaks to her being perceived as almost an angelic figure.

    Lastly, I would just like to add how interesting I found Areeb’s comment. The line of Haemon embracing Antigone in a pool of blood never struck me as powerful until now. It really is a desperate attempt to be close with her again, and since they never got to get married, this is almost like tying the knot in a completely different way.

    I look forward to reading the rest of the comments!

  11. Joel,

    I find what you have said to be very intriguing and interesting, however I have to disagree with a part of your argument.

    I’ll start off with Antigone and the idea you have presented of her having no reason to die – I don’t think you are doing her justice in saying so. Yes, if one looks at this play with a logical eye it’s incredibly easy to say that Antigone’s actions are far too irrational and foolish for one to comprehend. But I don’t believe that this was a play meant to be looked at with the eyes of logic – there is not much within the play that appeals to one’s logos – rather, this play was intended to be seen with one’s heart, with emotion. I would offer that the pacing of the piece furthers my point. Much like the production of Romeo and Juliet that we watched, the play moved so quickly that there was no time for one to sit back and process the events that were occurring. The storyline had a quick pace – one minute Antigone is in her home, talking to Ismene about burying their brother, and the next, she is caught clawing mud over her brother’s body. This is a play that pulls on the strings of the reader’s heart. From the choice of diction to the stage directions – everything is screaming at the reader to awaken their emotions and look at this tragic story with our hearts rather than our minds.

    That being said, I would like to offer that it was Antigone’s destiny to die – but fate was in her hands (as symbolized by the cord of her dress with which she hung herself) and she was able to decide how she would die. She symbolizes change and she was simply being the change that she wanted to see in Thebes – she wanted those around her to stop silently accepting their fates. She wanted them to see that although their destiny is pre-determined, they have the power to dictate their fate and decide how they reach their destiny.

    As for Haemon, it was his destiny to die at some point. He simply followed Antigone’s lead and dictated his fate. He chose how he was going to die and that he would die alongside the love of his life.

    With Creon, however, it is his destiny to remain alive. As we see in the play he doesn’t seem to know how to dictate his own fate; he simply goes with the flow and plays the role he thinks has been chosen for him. It is evident to us that he misses his old life dearly – he wishes he could still live a life devoted to art – but he thinks that he is obliged to rule Thebes. He believes it is his fate… But how easy it would be for him to neglect the role of King. If only he could open his eyes and see that he has the power to change his fate. This, I believe, is why Antigone died. Not for a foolish reason, or for no reason at all, but to prove to those around her that they are the masters of their own fate.

    – Vanessa D.

  12. To all:

    After our enlightening socratic discussion, I went back to my notes to fathom my thoughts together. The most complex part of this was definitely trying to understand the characters because they had various humane and seemingly inhumane traits.

    For instance, Antigone and her relation to fate. Before the discussion, I viewed her as the “courier” of fate, humane and changing. And coming back to this idea now, I am willing to argue that the author has not directly personified fate as Antigone herself. She is ultimately seen catalyzing reactions from humans and “threading” them together to get her way— without much regard of the hurt she may cause. But agreeing with Megan, she cares as a human would; for Haemon, to have a purpose in this world, and despite her un-earthly traits she is plainly a humane being who is capable of creating her preferred way through strong desire. She is willing to be stubborn and let the circumstances around her change, but not let the circumstances around her change her. I found this to be an admirable human condition because it allows her to pave her own path. It allows her to be a catalyst and inculcate the possibility of change in others (e.g. Ismene, people of Thebes) around her; consequently making her actions feel purposeful. And those actions cause reactions. Those actions allow her to be strong instead of weak and she is able to no longer be “Little Antigone,” but instead be her own person: a bigger person that can even shake her older sister. One could argue that her sense of resilience and her lust for executing something memorable support her stubbornness alongside proving her human state.

    As many of you are, I would also like to touch on Creon’s character. Throughout the discussion, I continually noticed Creon embodying desperation and terror. He was the one obstructing Antigone from change— from a state of living to death, from stirring the mindset of the people of Thebes. From the moment he become king, he did things for the people. He used to be “different. [He] was a kind of art patron.” He had decided to just accept fate as it came: rolling up his sleeves to take over the kingdom. And now he was weary and the only art he practiced was the “difficult art of a leader of men.” Through this lense, it is easy to contradict Creon’s humane qualities with those of Antigone. Creon is tractable to let others’ needs wash over his, Antigone is completely obstinate and uses people like Creon to achieve her demands.

    I believe both of these characters embrace extremes of some traits while also possessing a vast spectrum of related emotions and traits that makes it difficult to comprehend and summarize them. But that is what makes them, like us, humans.

    —Ayisha

  13. To all who have replied before, and who will reply after as well,

    In my opinion, the hero/heroine are not represented by actual people; Creon and Antigone are both interpreted differently perspectives that people have on them (as Claire stated earlier). The tragic hero of this play, in my own opinion, is Creon. He is the one who stands at the highest place of all, as King of Thebes in this play. His first law as King was to ban the proper burial of Polyneices, and that is what began his downfall. We can see the justification in doing so, because although Polyneices had the right to be King of Thebes, he still allied himself with six FOREIGN princes, bringing about a civil war within Thebes. Think of it in this perspective: If, say, the Governor General suddenly decided that he wanted control of the Federal Government, and he allied himself with Britain, bringing about Civil War in Canada, would he be decorated and properly buried at the end of that war (if he died and Canada won that war)? No, of course not. That would be the equal of burying a traitor, which is how Polyneices is seen. The laws of humanity are represented by this one law, the first law of Creon as King; however, fate, does not agree. Fate, controlling Antigone, is set to break the rules of Mankind as those laws go against the Will of the God(s). Creon cannot break the first law that he has made, and so that is the battle. A battle between the laws of Humans, against the Laws of Higher Power(s). I believe Creon to be the tragic hero of this piece; he begins on a high position, and he has a tragic flaw, with that flaw being the refusal to bow down to the Will of the Gods. And we can’t blame him. He is the King of Thebes, after a civil war, which has caused unrest in the city of Thebes. He cannot back down, otherwise the people of Thebes would not see him as a strong leader. If he backs down, people are going to lose faith, which may end up resulting in a rebellion. As such, this battle is between human order, against Fate [The Will of God(s)]. Creon is a symbol for human rationality, making the best decision for the people, while the Will of God(s) is something that has been tied in the universe since the beginning of it, and Antigone is the representation of it. Fate controls Antigone, while Human rationality is in control of Creon.

    In my opinion, although Antigone is a born human, she is different from others. She is the opposite of her sister, Ismene, who is beautiful and elegant, while Antigone is characterized in a darker, more impulsive manner. She talks to her dog in a very strange manner. She is a pawn of fate, being manipulated by it. This is stated at the very beginning of the text, as that she is going to die. That cannot be changed. She knows of this, and does not want to die. This is why I think that she is referred to as a higher being, because although she is human, she is also controlled by greater powers, thus becoming affiliated with those powers. She is not in control of herself, and as a result, many of her actions are very difficult to understand with rationality. Why does she seem to want to die, and why bury Polyneices to achieve that death? It may be to grow from “little Antigone”, into a strong woman named “Antigone”, or it may also be because she is destined to die from her birth, and her master, which could be thought of as the Will of the God(s), chose for her to die enforcing the laws of the higher powers.

    I’d like to take this time to thank everyone in this AP class for that Socratic discussion. It has honestly changed my mind about the play Antigone. At first, I had thought of it as dull and boring, without too much characterization, but after that Socratic, it has honestly become one of my most favorite plays. So I’d like to give thanks to everyone, for giving me that satisfaction.

    Thank you all for being amazing.

    Truly yours,
    Rehman

  14. Fate was always a large and important part in Ancient Greek culture, they believed that their fate was predetermined, that there was nothing anyone could do to defy it. Their lives were spun on the threads woven by the Three Fates. Antigone herself was aware of this inevitability, she was aware that every human was going to die in the end, it was almost as if she wanted to leave this world. She is portrayed as an ethereal being that does not belong with on the earth. However, Antigone needed a purpose for her death–something to be remembered by–and once she found one in her brother, she used it as a way to pull herself out of this world.
    This highly contrasts with the character of Creon, someone who represents the doubt and constant questioning of humanity. Which is rather ironic considering Creon is the one and only character to ever directly interact with the chorus, a being that seems to represent the gods or perhaps even the Three Fates.
    On a side note I’d also like to mention the significance of the number ‘three’ in Greek mythology, it’s a number that you can highly relate to the topic of destiny and fate. In any event there are three stages, beginning, middle and end, in life there are three stages, birth life and death. In Greek mythology there are the three major (colloquially referred to as the ‘Big Three’) gods Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, the three fates, and in the Greek afterlife one can choose to be revived three times in order to reach the Isles of the Blessed, the ultimate gift in the afterlife.

  15. Dear My Lovely and Wise Friends,

    Antigone. What a beautiful character weaved into such simple words!
    Personally I found Antigone to be a symbol of fire, for I admired her courage, resiliency and vehement persona. She induced an intensity of passion within me that not many characters have the capability of doing and for this I thank the script-writer with humble gratitude for his masterpiece.

    Antigone’s persistence to give her brother a somewhat dignified burial pulls at a cord deep to my heart, for what sister would allow for such a heinous deed to occur in her presence? But at the same time I can’t help question, what is she really dying for? Her brother? Or her unwillingness to live? Because within a section in the script she seamed weary of her own truth. Perhaps this is the truth of Antigone? Her inability to discern between truth, fact and illusion or her wise philosophy of dying with meaning is just evidence of her being a human. A human-who is striving to live with passion but unable to justify it, because in my opinion passion is to be felt rather than understood.

    I completely agree with many of the thoughts put forth in regards to fate. I would offer, this is sincerely coming from personal belief, that from the day we are born our expiration date and perhaps even the method of which we will die is predetermined. I don’t believe that there has to be any logical reasoning behind Antigone’s death other than the magic of fate. For even if her brother was not rotting on the streets, Antigone would have still ended up where she had, for as authors, many a times we solidify the ending prior to the beginning or the journey there. And perhaps, if there is a God, he does too.

    I would like to specifically speak to Genevieve’s comment about Greek culture. There is something so magical about the way the Greeks thought in threes that still resonates with humans from all ethnicities around the globe. Many cultures created along the span of human existence have also incorporated 3 in various rituals, beliefs, and ways of thought. And this all encompassing idea of 3 has an enchanting mysticism that has an immediate way of alluring in the audience, for in one way or another I am sure we have all experience the power of 3. If you think about it age is even categorized into 3- child, adult, senior. But perhaps the significance of this number goes beyond categorization but also into a form of grey because why 3? Why does 3 do the charm but 2 doesn’t? There are many examples of 3 but I’d like to ask why?

    And of course I find it necessary to comment on Creon’s lovely character. Many may find me crazy but I loved him- for he was incredibly real to me. He was passionate, mad, angry, afraid, loving to his kin- he encompassed the entire spectrum of human emotion. I found his character to be flawed undoubtedly, but it were his flaws that made him so relatable. Yes he may be considered “evil” but since we are constantly speaking about fate- Creon’s evil would not have controlled the outcome regardless. Antigone was bound to die.
    I would offer that Creon’s evil, was fuelled by a sense of vulnerability rather than rationality. He was vulnerable and did what he thought was right to cover himself up. I don’t find it a rationale move to leave your nephew out to rot in the streets, rather I find it cowardly. For what man in-dignifies another to the point of refusing another man a burial? A man who can not lead without enforcing fear is probably living in pure doubt and vulnerability behind closed doors. I believe a man who uses fear to oppress the people, is a man who is inadequate to face his own inner demons- be it insecurity or extreme vulnerability.
    Yet this is what makes Creon human, and this is what makes him an appealing character, for I empathize with him, without condoning his actions.

    That is simply all I can offer at 11:30pm- my brain is going into shut-down mode. However, I would love to further converse with my fellow intellectuals at a later date. For now, goodnight my dear friends.
    ~Malika

  16. Dear all:

    When people started mentioning the significance of three in the play, (especially when Genevieve brought up the idea of a beginning, middle, and end), I was reminded of the extended metaphor in the play where Creon compares all his actions to he steering of a boat. By the nature of the aforementioned metaphor, the reader can start to see how Creon is a man who desires control; he is a believer of destiny – an idea that he can steer the direction of his fate. This is further supported by the imagery of steering a ship; it is executed with long, parallel sentences. Thus, through the mere construction of his syntax, the author evokes an idea that something (most likely fate) is unraveling due to the words that are coming out of Creon’s mouth, and it causes the situation to become increasingly longer and messy. Creon is attempting to redefine his fate by unraveling it to make sense of it. Yet it is all meaningless when the Queen sews it all back together, and then proceeding to kill herself.

    A lot of people are naming Antigone as a catalyst, but I would argue that Creon is as well. The tragic element of a tragedy is that it “is clean, it is restful, it is flawless.” The asyndeton in the above quote reiterates the notion that fate is well-oiled machine that runs without resistance, but Creon is that resistance; when the water (referring back to the ship analogy) is attempting to guide a person to a specific destination, Creon is steering them elsewhere.

    Additionally, as the chorus states that melodrama “is vulgar; it’s practical”, it juxtaposes it with tragedy, where “argument is gratuitous: it’s kingly”, it becomes crucial for one to pay close attention to the difference in punctuation. While melodrama is described with a semicolon, the function of the punctuation entails that melodrama possesses conflict because there is the opposition of two opposing views. Yet in tragedy, a colon is used to connect ideas. Subsequently, by nature of its role, the colon redefines why argument is “gratuitous” – because it is “kingly”; because it is Creon, the king. Creon’s hopeless resistance strengthens the tragedy.

    Thus, while one could argue that catalytic role of Antigone, would Creon not serve that role as well?

    Sincerely,

    Queeny

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