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Plot Summary - Anitgone

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Introduction

Etocles and Polyneices, brothers, have killed each other over their lust to be king of Thebes. Their uncle Creon is the new king. It is his opinion that Polyneices is a traitor and should be shamed by leaving him unburied. Etocles however, is seen as a valiant nephew and will be given a burial ceremony. The play opens with a distressed Antigone appealing to her sister, Ismene, to help her bury Polyneices. Ismene however does not wish to disobey her uncle as this was treachery of the highest order in ancient Greece. However, it was also a family's obligation to bury relatives who had passed away. The burial of the dead was a requisite to enable a peaceful afterlife of the recently deceased. Any unburied dead would be shamed and their souls would not rest. Evidently, this puts Ismene in a difficult situation of choosing what to do. Ismene would like to bury her brother but is too afraid of disobeying her uncle, the King. Ismene is worried about what might happen to Antigone. She advises her not to bury their brother as Creon has said that Polyneices be shamed. The rebellious Antigone is undeterred by her sister's advice and leaves upset that her sister will not join her. ...read more.

Middle

Ismene enters crying. Creon asks if she is guilty of burying Polyneices. Ismene shockingly says she is guilty. Antigone tries to rationalise Ismene, saying her sister must not be held accountable for her actions. The audience receive another shock when Ismene asks Creon why he would kill the future wife of his son, Haemon. Calmly, Creon says that there are more women that his son can marry. Ismene continues with her inquisitiveness which angers Creon, so he sends the sisters away. The Chorus enter to perform their second stasimon. They sing that great people are affected by madness and how there is very little hope in this story. The Chorus paints a very bleak picture, not only for Antigone who in the eyes of an Athenian audience was great / mad but also for the rest of the story. At the end they introduce the arrival of Haemon, Creon's son. Haemon has come to speak to his father and seems cool and calm. He flatters his father by telling him how wise he is. This pleases Creon who goes on to reiterate that Antigone is no good for his son. Creon is portrayed as a man more concerned about his public perception than family matters of love. The Chorus agree with Creon's views. ...read more.

Conclusion

The tomb was opened; Haemon and Antigone could be seen. Antigone was hanging by a noose, Haemon was hugging her and crying. Haemon, upon seeing his father, tried to stab him with a sward. Creon dodged the swipe of the blade. Angered he turned the sword on himself and stabbed himself in the lungs and died falling into Antigone. Eurydice leaves and the Chorus speculate why she has gone. It is assumed by the messenger that she wants to mourn personally. However the chorus think she might kill herself. The messenger leaves. Creon enters in a distressed state. He is consoled by the chorus. Creon admits that he is made some mistakes and learnt from them. The messenger, harbinger of bad news, returns just as normality returns. He informs Creon that his wife, Eurydice's, has killed her self. The messenger goes on to describe that Eurydices blamed Creon for everything saying "these are your crimes, Childkiller!" Creon asks to be taken away and feels worth "less than a nobody". The play closes with Creon praying to his Gods. He is miserable and says he is useless. The chorus close the play by reassuring Creon that the Gods will always help him. Hubris is referred to one last time as the cause of the incidents and that Creon will learn not to be so arrogant. ...read more.

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