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Humanism In Antigone

Decent Essays
Over the centuries, the figure of Antigone has assumed the archetypal and iconographical martyred champion of the oppressed thus been restaged and reworked into countless literary pieces. Through Winston’s performance as Antigone, Fugard is able project ideas of Western liberal humanism to an apartheid-ridden South Africa, constituting to a form of heroic resistance against racial oppression.

Fugard specifically focuses on ‘The Trial and Punishment of Antigone’ scene where the play climaxes. Through the use of metatheatre, he highlights the power of stage performance, in this case demonstrating Winston’s action in the play-within-a-play has abilities to transcend through reality and affect us, the audience. This is done by creating an intentional slippage between the division level of reality, the stage and the stage-on-stage. By ‘tearing off his wig and confronting the audience as Winston, not Antigone’ he essentially blurs the boundary between actor and character, conversely the boundary between stage and reality also disintegrates. The use of John and
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Her act of defying Creon by burring her brother is paralleled with Winston’s defiance of the state and rebellious act of resisting apartheid authority by burning his passbook. By openly committing his act in front of a police station, like Antigone, he is sentenced to his ‘living death’ eclipsing their tragic fate together. In Sophocles' original work, Creon symbolise the state law and Antigone the will of the Gods, underlining the fact that state law is not absolute, and can be broken through civil disobedience hence suggesting there is a higher law of humanity. Thus, in the eyes of the ‘higher law’ Winston’s burning of the passbook is justifiable. This can be extended to Fugard’s work where apartheid authority is represented through John’s Creon and freedom and of human rights of Black Africans are echoed in Antigone as evident in the final
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