ANTIGONE KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
This tragedy is set against the background of the Oedipus legend. It illustrates how the curse on the House of Labdacus (who is the grandson of Cadmus, founder of Thebes, and the father of Laius, whose son is Oedipus) brought about the deaths of Oedipus and his wife-mother, Jocasta, as well as the double fratricide of Eteocles and Polynices. Furthermore, Antigone dies after defying King Creon.
The play is set in Thebes, a powerful city-state north of Athens. Although the play itself was written in 441 B.C., the legend goes back to the foundations of Hellenic culture, many centuries before Sophocles’ time.
All the scenes take place in front of the royal palace at Thebes. Thus Sophocles…show more content… The leader of the Chorus
Occasionally speaks a few lines addressed mainly to the audience. He is given the final lines of the play, in which he draws a moral from the sequence of tragic events the audience has just witnessed.
Antigone is the resolute and strong-willed daughter of King Oedipus. She is determined to give her brother, Polynices, a decent burial. She consciously risks her life with this action, which violates both Creon’s unjust decree, as well as the ancient custom of denying burial to enemies of the state. She obeys only the laws of the gods and the dictates of familial loyalty and social decency.
King Creon regards only the requirement of political expediency. Soon after the civil strife between Eteocles and Polynices ends in their deaths, he announces a decree denying Polynices’ burial. He is unrelenting in his stance, as he wants Thebans to know that he is a firm ruler. Thus he sentences his own niece, Antigone, to death for defying his law.
The climax of the play occurs during the encounter between Creon and Antigone. It is a scene marked by dramatic contrast. Here one can see the incompatibility between Creon’s world of physical power (which he takes to be absolute) and the world of spiritual, idealistic strength which Antigone represents. Creon’s vanity is hurt and his anger aroused by the stubborn disobedience of one whom he considers to be merely a mad woman.