Antigone written by Jean Anouilh
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IBS English Coursework Ruth Haines Discuss the reasons for Antigone's decision to die and whether her death can be justified Antigone written by Jean Anouilh is a play based on Sophcles ancient Greek tragedy also of the same name. Although major themes and aspects of this play have been adapted and modernised, the plot remains very similar to that of the original pay. It tells the story of a young girl, Antigone, who is willing to defy the kings orders and break the law in order to attempt to bury her dead brother, Polinices, to whom Creon (the king) has refused a proper burial. Despite Creon's desperate attempts to let her of her crime, for she is betrothed to his son, Antigone refuses his offer and relentlessly demands to be put to death. Unlike in Sophocles ancient Greek original, in Jean Anouilh's Antigone the reasons for Antigone's death are not clear and her justifications for wanting to die are portrayed with much ambiguity. For in Sophcles version, which is very much centred round the Greek Gods and religion, Antigone posses' very strong religious beliefs. It is clearly conveyed that Antigone feels that it is her duty to do as much as she can to give her dead brother the chance of a religious burial and it is very clear that these beliefs are what she is willing to die for.
ANTIGONE. Yes, it's absurd " Antigone adamantly embraces her guilt and abandons the more reverent approach. After this point it rapidly becomes apparent to the audience that Antigone is actually unsure of her reasons for her decision to die. Throughout the rest of her confrontation with Creon, Antigone seems to be wondering blindly and confused, uncertain of herself and the true reason for her need to die. This accounts for the way in which she quickly adopts and abandons many different ideals that she believes justify her actions. Immediately after Antigone dispels with the excuse of family loyalty and her 'beliefs' in religious burials the audience see a swift change in Antigones approach to justifying her actions. Antigone explains her actions were done for herself, which we find out later in her speech is due to her own unhappiness and unsatisfaction with life. "ANTIGONE: For nobody. For myself" After this revelation from Antigone she begins to persistently argue this new excuse for death. She adopts the idea of self and develops it into the idea of refusal. Antigone then goes on to taunt and mock Creon for his decision to say 'Yes' and thus for being weak. "ANTIGONE: No, Creon! You said yes, and made yourself king.
There is no definitive answer to whether Antigones reason for death can be justified or not, as people interpret this play in many different ways. Many people regard Antigone as a symbol of courage and praise her as a hero for dieing whilst safeguarding her values, rather that compromising them. However this is easily confused for martyrdom and many believe that Antigone craved for martyrdom and the ability to stand for something heroic. This idea is reinforced by Antigones refusal to share her punishment with her sister 'Ismene', thus sharing her 'earned' martyrdom. "ANTIGONE: you don't think I'm going to let you die with me after what I've been through? You don't deserve it... .... You chose life and I chose death." Ultimately I believe it is up to the individuals to decide themselves whether Antigone is right or wrong. The dramatist could have purposely not provided a neat solution to the problem he has raised because the answer was not important. Unlike the original, which was very strongly portrayed as a tragedy, this play could have been meant to reflect the complexity of the human condition. A further explanation for the complexity and ambiguity in this play, surrounding whether Antigone was right or wrong, could be seen as a reflection of the complexity in the situation facing the people in France at that current time.
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