Compare and Contrast the Part That the City or State (Polis) Plays in Antigone and Oedipus the King.

1539 Words Oct 2nd, 2005 7 Pages
In both Antigone and Oedipus the King the city plays an important part with the majority of the action in both plays taking place in public in front of a chorus of Theban citizens. Personal conflict/crises take place in public, and when personal events take place off stage, they are relied to the chorus (and the audience) through messengers. The city also helps to move the plot of the plays along, as well providing dramatic tension. In addition the city helps to give us greater understanding of the characters of Oedipus and Creon, as the rulers of Thebes in Oedipus the King and Antigone respectively.

At the beginning of Oedipus the King, Thebes is facing destruction from a plague which is spreading throughout the city. Oedipus, in
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With the exception of the very first scene in Antigone between Antigone and Ismene, the action of both plays takes place within the public domain. This means that personal revelations and crises that the characters endure are made in public. For example Oedipus learns of his true heritage from the Corinthian Messenger and Shepherd in front of the citizens of Thebes (Oedipus the King lines 1084-1310, "Wait, who is this woman, makes you so afraid…"). Creon 's downfall in Antigone is done in public, (1420-1470, ""Oh no, a second loss to break the heart…"). Even when the action of the plays moves off stage to behind the closed palace doors, the events are revealed in the public domain, for example the suicide of Jocasta and blinding of Oedipus (Oedipus the King, lines1364-1429 ) and the suicides of Antigone, Haemon and Eurydice (Antigone lines 1312 – 1373 and 1410-1412). This reinforces the importance of the city within the context of the plays, as nothing personal can remain secret and private.

The city is represented by the chorus which comprises of Theban citizens in both plays. The chorus enter the stage almost at the beginning of the plays (line 169) in Oedipus the King and line 117 in Antigone) and do not leave until the very end of each play. Thus they witness most of the events and revelations that happen. However their function within the context of the plays does differ.

In Antigone the chorus of
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