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Action in Antigone

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Action in Antigone Before actually discussing the unfolding of the action in Antigone, we must know that this play is about the clash of two opposing ideals, and the battle of wills of two people, both of whom believe they are justified in their actions, and both of whom are strong enough to stick to their actions and face consequences. This is a play about hubris, about unbending and unyielding arrogance and ego that eventually leads to a great person's downfall. The structure of Antigone is instrumental in the unfolding of the action. It adheres to the frame of traditional ancient Greek tragedies, however it has some variations. The characteristics of a traditional tragedy was * Prologue * Parodos * First Episode * First Choral recitation * Second Episode * Second Choral recitation * Third Episode * Third Choral recitation * Fourth Episode * Fourth Choral recitation * Exodus The prologue should have consisted of a monologue, and the parados marks the entry of the chorus, where it enters (dancing and singing) and takes its positions. However, the play begins immediately with the first episode, with intervals given by the choral recitations. The purpose of the chorus is to allow actors to change dresses. The reason for this is that traditional Greek plays had only two or three actors who would play all roles.

Middle

Just like this, the chorus prepares us for the next episode. This form of introduction is effective. It prepares the audience for the next scene and simplifies the shifts in scene which may have confused people who saw the play. The narration by the chorus also gives us the account of the third person and gives us the opinion of the common man, on the actions of Creon and Antigone. The fifth chorus serves as the best example, when Antigone joins in the recitation and says she is "unhappy", and the chorus feels pity for her. This shows how the chorus agrees with Antigone, and the transition in its viewpoint from calling Creon the "heaven sent change" to calling Antigone, whom he punished, "godlike" Viewed only from the two main characters eyes, each characters own action will seem correct, and the others wrong. The chorus also gives us background history of matters. In the first chorus, we are told of the battle between Polynices and Eteocles, and their "common fate" of death by each others "lances". It also gives us hints of the action that has taken place off stage, for example, in the first chorus, Antigone is called a "prisoner" and she is brought in as a captive by the Sentinel in the following episode.

Conclusion

In Antigone's monologue we see her helplessness as she fears dying "friendless, unwept, unwed". She immediately changes, however, in front of Creon and becomes adamant and proud. Due the dialogue we see the arrogance and hubris of Creon, the way he dismisses Haemon as a "boy" whose advice he will not take, the way he addresses his subordinates as he accuses the sentinel of "sell(ing)" his "soul" and covering Polynices' body for money. We see in his dialogue with Tiresias that he has respect only for those who will follow him. He says that "reverend" Tiresias has "done" him "Good service", but then calls him "covetous" when Tiresias tells him to undo his will of entombing Antigone. We also see a change in Creon from the start of the play, when he is confident of himself, to the end, when he is unhappy, and realises "the fault was mine (Creon's)" because of which Haemon and Eurydice killed themselves. Thus the dialogue also helps in expounding Sophocles' message that pride always precedes a fall. I feel that the structure of the play and the way the action unfolds in this play was good for the time when it was written, but is not appropriate for contemporary times. Introducing physical action may actually help the developing of the themes and message of the play. I feel that even in a play "actions speak louder than words", hence the excellent dialogue would be complemented by the action.

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