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MonkeyNotes-Antigone by Jean Anouilh
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EPISODE VII (A)

Summary

The Chorus comes to tell Creon that he is out of his mind for arresting Antigone. Creon defends his decision as being Antigone's own. He claims that she has rejected life and embraces death. Haemon rushes in to confirm the bad news. Creon tells him that Antigone does not love him. Haemon begs his father to revoke his order, but it is too late.

The Chorus again urges Creon to save Antigone. Creon yells that the mob knows the truth and is howling for her blood. Creon is the King of Thebes, but he claims he is not above the law; he must carry out his edict. He sadly tells Haemon of his tragic destiny: "She must die and you must live." Haemon is enraged at his father's unwillingness to change the situation. Creon begs his son not to judge him harshly. Haemon feels the whole situation is a bad dream and swears that he cannot live without Antigone. The Chorus pities Haemon, who is wounded to death by the emotional blow. Creon cries out that they are all wounded. The guards drag Antigone on stage and tell Creon that crowds are entering the palace. Antigone begs to be allowed to die in peace. Creon orders that the palace be emptied at once.


Notes

Creon's action of sending Antigone to her death provokes a reaction in the Chorus and in Haemon. The Chorus warns Creon of his wild decision, for Thebes will carry the scar of his decision for centuries. Creon insists that Antigone has made her own decision; she has rejected life and happiness for death. When Haemon enters, he is in disbelief that his fiancee has been sentenced to death by his own father. Creon tries to calm Haemon's grief and begs him to forget Antigone, as she is not human or ordinary. He tells Haemon that he has tried every trick and argument to persuade Antigone to give up her mad rebellion, but Haemon is not convinced. He begs his father to ignore his edict.

A sense of urgency and despair is felt throughout the episode. The mob's bloodthirsty howls can be heard outside; and the Chorus reminds Creon that he must find a way out of this terrible situation that will affect Thebes for years to come. They suggest that the king could lock Antigone away or send her out of Thebes. Creon feels helpless and trapped by his own edict.

Haemon cries out in grief that Antigone cannot be taken away from him; he does not want to live without her, foreshadowing his own suicide. Haemon is also disappointed in his father, whom he has viewed as great and strong, a figure to worship. Creon is full of grief over his son's rejection and begs him not to judge him so harshly. Creon feels totally isolated, deserted by Antigone, his son, and the Chorus. He doubts himself and the wisdom of his decision. When the Chorus points out to him that Haemon is emotionally wounded, Creon cries out in despair that they are all wounded.

The guards drag Antigone on stage and tells the defeated Creon that the crowds are rushing into the palace. Antigone begs Creon to keep the mob away from her, for she wants to be alone until the moment of her death. Creon orders the guards to empty the palace. The lights dim as the guards exit. Only the area around the table is illuminated. The darkness of the scene suggests a prison cell.

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