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A high proportion of the most dramatic scenes in plays from all eras are scenes written precisely for two characters. Choose such a scene from Anouilh's Antigone and explain what makes it dramatic.

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Monday 23rd February 2004 A high proportion of the most dramatic scenes in plays from all eras are scenes written precisely for two characters. Choose such a scene from Anouilh's Antigone and explain what makes it dramatic. The most dramatic scene in Antigone, a play modernised in 1944 by French playwright Jean Anouilh from Sophocles' ancient, classical Grecian play, is the scene has been selected to analyse in this essay. The scene takes place between the eponymous heroine Antigone and her antagonistic uncle Creon, the authoritarian King of Thebes, when Creon discovers that Antigone, his niece, has been going against his decree in which was stated that no person may try to bury the body of Polynices, which lay outside Thebes' gates; Antigone's brother and the declared enemy of Thebes. The scene is riddled with tension from the beginning. The fact that it is predominantly the interrogation of Antigone by Creon instantly sets a dark, tense mood. Symbolism plays an important role throughout the scene; Anouilh makes it clear immediately that this is a battle in which only one side can triumph; the Parisian audience in 1944 would have seen it as a battle of good versus evil, the protagonist versus the antagonist, the latter of which they would have believed to be Creon, the side of good being championed in the unlikely form of Antigone. Unlikely, because she is in fact the antithesis of what is considered to be archetypal heroine; both physically and emotionally. ...read more.


There is a long, sweeping staircase towards the back of the stage, and apart from the backdrops that is it. In all the stage design in very simplistic, which is highly effective as it draws attention to what is important in the play; the characters, not their surroundings, emphasizing the characters themselves when they are performing their dialogues, leaving them to engage their audience visually through their acting. The relationship between the eponymous heroine and her uncle is an odd one. There is evidence that in the past, there may have been affection between the two. 'Don't forget that the first doll you ever had came from me', Creon tells Antigone, though this is possibly an attempt at emotional blackmail. Creon would have lowered his voice and tried to make it sweet at that point, trying to ensnare and manipulate Antigone into an emotional trap. It is possible, of course, that this could simply have been a reference to a happier past in which Antigone and Creon exchanged mutual fondness for one another, but it is more likely that was not the case. Throughout his speech to convince Antigone to give up her seemingly senseless actions, Creon hides behind the guise of a considerate and affectionate uncle, only wanting the best for his orphaned niece. At first Creon entreats to the point of begging Antigone to make her listen to him, though he finds that this approach has no effect. ...read more.


'You will never stop paying', she says, condemning him. She then mocks Creon, attempting to goad him into a reaction, telling him that he was unfit to be in the position of head of state; 'What a King you could be if only men were animals!' 'My nails are broken, my fingers are bleeding, my arms are covered with the welts left by the paws of your guards-but I am a queen'. Despite all her faults, from her inane beliefs to her unseemly appearance, she is still above him, that she is the daughter of Oedipus, a title that she wears proudly, despite Creon's efforts to shatter her illusion of her father. The sight of this young woman, little more than a child, speaking in such a way to a king of a great city of men is one that would have a strong, dramatic impact upon the audience. In conclusion, Jean Anouilh uses a combination of symbolism, language, physicality and stage directions to produce the effect he had intended to create for this scene; one of dark, straining dramatic tension. Anouilh also uses fictional family history, past events and relationships involving the main characters, the eponymous heroine Antigone and her authoritarian uncle Creon, to strengthen the emotion in the scene, and thus, once again, to add to the drama of the situation. The statement 'A high proportion of the most dramatic scenes in plays from all eras are scenes written precisely for two characters' directly applies to Antigone; the scene analysed above is the most dramatic scene in the entire play. ...read more.

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