• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Portrayal of society in "Oedipus the King" and "Antigone"

Extracts from this document...


Portrayal of society in "Oedipus the King" and "Antigone" People and society have been significant principles in every civilization. We gain power through it, stay on top because of it and are a part of it. In Sophocles' time people were of great importance for the Greeks, it was the time of the establishment of democracy, the country was governed for and by the people. Antigone was written in France during the German occupation and contains political messages to the people. This essay tends to investigate how society is portrayed in Sophocles' Oedipus the King and Jean Anouilh's Antigone, and briefly how and for what purpose this is done. The portrayal of society depicts the society in the play, and how that reflects the contemporary society of the author. One way of portraying society in Oedipus the King is through the chorus. In this play the chorus is a group of Theban people who express their ideas and thoughts, and pray to the Gods. By doing this they show how the Theban people react to what happens during the play. In the chorus' first appearance we see them praying to the gods describing the horrors of the plague. The people of Thebes are suffering and they turn to Zeus, Apollo, Athena and Artemis for deliverance. ...read more.


The old respect and attention given to the deities were eroding as the result of the intellectual, social and scientific progress of the time. About this Knox writes "The figure1 of Oedipus represents not only the techniques of the transition from savagery to civilization and the political achievements of the newly settled society but also the temper and methods of the fifth-century intellectual revolution. His speeches are full of words, phrases and attitudes that link him with the "enlightenment" of Sophocles' own Athens." This change in society is reflected when Oedipus ridicules and offends Tiresias who represents prophecy and spiritual power. In fact Sophocles expresses his conservative ideas by setting up the double irony of the blind man who can see the truth and the future and the seeing man who is blind to his past, present and even to his own identity. As the story goes on we see the proud man who rejected the prophetic power descend to total humiliation and destruction. Knox puts it this way: " The catastrophe of the tragic hero thus becomes the catastrophe of fifth-century man; all his furious energy and intellectual daring drive him on to this terrible discovery of his fundamental ignorance - he is not the measure of all things..." ...read more.


He sarchastically explains how "schoolchildren emptied their savings-boxes to buy wreathes for him. Old men, orating in quavering, hypocritical voices ...and every temple priest was present with an appropriate show of sorrow and solemnity in his stupid face." This also shows that he has no respect for religion or people's beliefs, earlier he also uses phrases like "flummery about religious burial", "priestly abracadabra", "jibber-jabber" and "dreary bureaucrats". At one point Antigone exclaims " Animals, eh, Creon! What a king you could be if only men were animals". This can be Anouilh using Antigone's voice to say that not all people are animals, but docile and obedient people are. In general one can say that society is portrayed as better in Oedipus the King than in Antigone. Sophocles describes society as loyal, pious, open-minded and Oedipus and the Athenians as active, rational, courageous, intelligent, experienced, good at adapting to new circumstances and compassionate. The only portrayal of society in Antigone, which is through Creon, describes it as criminal, hypocritical, stupid, lazy, self-centred and ignorant. That does not necessarily say anything about the people, but more about the ruler himself. The writers describe two successive generations of the Theban people, but through them write to and about people more than 2000 years apart. 1 Introduction to Oedipus the King in The Three Theban plays, Penguin Classics. Notes by Bernard MacGregor Walke Knox. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Classics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Classics essays

  1. What is the role of the chorus in "Oedipus the King" the "Lysistrata".

    This is important in the plot of the play as it is evolving around the anger of the gods and the prophecies of the Oracle. Both choruses in "Lysistrata" have a leader that is to a certain extent the spokesman for the group.

  2. Discuss the themes of identity explored in "King Oedipus" and "Waiting for Godot".

    Memory loss, in this case, symbolizes a loss of a certain part of identity, because remembering the past is a key to knowing who you are and if you exist. They often forget what they have done, shown in their repetition of the same scenario daily and in the fact

  1. Compare and contrast the portrayal of the Gods in Virgil's Aeneid and Ovid's metamorphoses.

    After her transformation she undergoes the traumatic realisation of her new self, and Ovid emphasises the pathos around her: 'Would she complain, a moo came from her throat, a startling sound-her own voice frightened her...in the water, mirrored she saw her muzzle and the horns and fled in terror from

  2. How far is it possible to explain the differences between the Parthenon and the ...

    Political Functions: The Parthenon was clearly used for political actions. It had a treasury based inside one of the small rooms at the back and the masses were forbidden to enter. Alongside the Parthenon being used as a place where they kept their money, they also made decisions for money at the site.

  1. Social Historical Background - Antigone

    If a person was left unburied or lacked the coin under their mouth, they would roam the banks of life and could not cross to the banks of death. Therefore when Polynices is not buried he is left to roam the lands, so Antigone goes to give him the burial he deserves.

  2. How far do you agree that Sophocles "Oedipus the King" is nothing more than ...

    story as there is maybe more than just Oedipus involved in Lauis' murder. Could the God's be equally as responsible as Oedipus? Indeed it was Oedipus that actually carried out the murder, but it was the God's who predicted it would happen, Oedipus had no chance of escaping what was already written to take place.

  1. The Use of Religious Beliefs in Oedipus and The Stranger

    He is angered to the extent that he accuses Teiresias of being "involved in the murder of Laios" (p.39). He mocks him for his blindness, saying that he is "blind in [his] mind" (p.40). The holy prophet tells Oedipus that "the curse of [his] mother, the curse of [his] father,

  2. Charging and Discharging a Capacitor at Constant Rate

    It / V ?C = ?I + ?t + ?V C I t V ?C / C = (2/68) + (0.01/99) + (0.01/2.96) = 3.29% ?C = 2281 � 75�F Experiment 4 Experimental set-up: Step 3: Initial ammeter reading, Io = 68 � 2 �A Table 2 t(s)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work