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Play Tragedy

Antigone
Author First Performed Original Language
Jean Anouilh 1944 French

MAIN CHARACTERS

“I Must Go Based on the classic drama by Sophocles, Antigone follows the tragic
mythological heroine as she fights to bury her brother Polynices, who was
and Bury deemed a traitor. Caught between the rules of society and her sense of

My Brother.” duty, Antigone ignores her sister’s warnings and the king’s decree by
burying Polynices anyway—an act of defiance that leads to her own death.

Eurydice Chorus
Antigone
Creon’s disengaged wife; Counselor who informs the
Solemn yet unshakeable
knits and commits suicide audience, advises characters,
tragic heroine
and comments on the action

UNCLE SISTERS

Creon Ismene
Weary king of Thebes; Antigone’s pretty, talkative,
cares only about order flirtatious older sister

ENGAGED CARETAKER

Haemon Nurse
Antigone’s rejected fiancé; Strong, warmhearted
begs his father to spare nanny
Antigone

Motifs

Happiness Burying Polynices Card Playing

To Antigone, symbolizes Represents actions that have no Symbolizes the indifference and
superficiality and insincerity instead effect but are performed in support apathy common people have to
of authenticity and intensity of one’s principles matters of state

Antigone
Author
by the Numbers

~40 1949
Plays written by Anouilh Year a London production
starred Vivien Leigh as
Antigone and Laurence
Olivier as the Chorus JEAN ANOUILH
1910–87

Known for incorporating themes


that delve into the absurdity of the
human condition, Anouilh became
an international success for his
22 1944 intensely passionate, personal plays.
Antigone looks at how people can
Age when Anouilh’s first Year the play premiered stand up to authority, as the French
play was produced in Nazi-occupied Paris, did to the Germans in World War II.
sparking controversy with
its anti-authoritarian themes

Themes

Integrity Political Expediency Freedom vs. Constraint

Antigone’s action is futile because When Creon prohibits Polynices’s Antigone is free to stand up
the burial will be undone—but loyalty burial, he doesn’t believe his for her convictions, while Creon
compels her to act. soul will wander if unburied; his must compromise for the benefit
act is political. of the state.

hen your name is Antigone, there is only one part you can
play; and she will have to play hers through to the end.
Chorus

Sources: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature,


Modern French Drama 1940–1990 by David Bradby, New York Times, USC Libraries,
Vivien-Leigh.info

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