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The Play reproduced by Jean Anouilh, Antigone, was first performed in 1942 Paris

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How the play Antigone was influenced by the historical period it was written in. The Play 'Antigone' written by Jean Anouilh, in 1942, was not performed until 1944 in Paris. At this time Nazi's had control of France. The play was not allowed to go ahead as it showed sign of being anti-Nazi, but how far was this play influenced by the historical period it was written in? In August 1942, Paul Collete, acting alone and in full knowledge of his certain death, fired at and wounded a group of directors during a meeting of the collaborationist group 'legion des Volontaires'. It is quite obvious, in the play that this solitary act inspired Anouilh and that throughout the play he shows support for this mans sacrifice through the character Antigone. He is said to have found this act 'heroic, gratuitous, and futile-captured the essence of tragedy' This is made all the more apparent as after hearing about this act he immediately ordered a rewrite of Antigone. Throughout the play Antigone is shown opposing the regime for what she believes is right.


As the chance of performing this play depended mainly on the role of leadership and how it was displayed, Creon is described as a caring man, and as if the weight of this leadership is placed upon him and he has no blame. However the audience, at this time, would have hated him as he cares more for the stability of his country or state that of a person's life, feelings and right to a burial. He is shown to disrespect religion. To Antigone's reasoning of 'I owed it to him. Those who are not buried wander eternally' he replies 'Polynices was a rebel and a traitor.' This could show him as heartless to other religions, which could be compared to Hitler's heartlessness to the right for Jews to worship their own religion. Although Creon has many traits similar to Hitler's he is most comparable to the Vichy Government, which governed Southern France during Nazi occupation. They were controlled by the Nazi's.


We could use the character Ismene to portray the majority of the audience's situations. They would feel as if they wish for the rules to be different, but feel as if their sacrifice would not change anything and wish to live with what they have. They feel that although sitting back is hard it is a way of surviving. In conclusion, we can see that this play has major influences from its historical period. The character Creon holds a calm rational place in the play as he could be interpreted-Vichy government- as Hitler and would have to be see in a popular light to be able to be performed. Secondly, the character Antigone could be seen as a heroine or a hindrance to society. She could be interpreted as the latter due to her somewhat selfish actions of holding a belief that has been proven pointless. However an audience would see her, at the time, as the former due to her constant belief in morals and fairness as this is relatable to the Nazi routine. Lastly the audience could relate to Ismene as she, although she believes in Antigone's position is correct, she remains passive for her family and friends sakes.

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