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MonkeyNotes-Antigone by Jean Anouilh
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Eurydice

Eurydice, wife of Creon and Queen of Thebes, is a good woman, a recluse in her own world of the palace. She knits all day long to clothe the poor of Thebes. She is of no use to her husband, Creon, in his troubles. She remains outside the turmoil of state politics. Even Creon says that she is a busy woman in her own work, and he respects her solitary state.

Eurydice's suicide, triggered by the deaths of Antigone and Haemon, is a sad one. Alone in life and in death, Eurydice plays a passive role. She calmly puts her knitting down, on hearing of her beloved son's death and goes into her bedroom, where she slits her throat. Eurydice, as Queen of Thebes, had status and a measure of power, but she never tested its potential.

The Three Guards

The three guards make an interesting team. Jean Anouilh models them on ordinary mortals involved in the petty realities of existence. Their life in the play is consumed with drinking beer and playing cards. They are indifferent to the crimes around them, and treat the deaths of Antigone and Haemon as everyday work. As policemen, they are eternally innocent and untouched; nothing really matters to them, as seen in the end. After three tragic deaths have taken place, they calmly go back to their card game as if nothing has happened. Jean Anouilh, therefore, portrays the guards as inhuman and selfish to the core.


While imprisoned, Antigone talks to the guards. When she asks about his life, the first guard reveals his secret ambitions of promotion. He explains that he left the army to become a guard, for it meant more money. With two children and a wife, he needed to be well paid. In Episode VI, Antigone dictates a farewell letter to Haemon, which the guard writes in his notebook. He thinks the short letter that she writes to Haemon is very strange, for he is incapable of understanding depth of emotion. He also cannot sympathize with the pain of others. His main purposes of existence are to be entertained and to survive.

2The guards are eager to please Creon, their boss, and are relieved that they are not dismissed by him for neglecting their guard duty. The guards do not care about pleasing Antigone. In a callous and crude manner, they roughly handcuff Antigone and rudely push her along. Since they behave in a beastly manner, it is not surprising that they use bestial metaphors to describe others. For example, they call Antigone "a hyena." To prove their crudeness, the author has them smelling like garlic and beer throughout the play.

The Messenger

The Messenger has the unpleasant task of breaking the tragic news of Antigone's suicide, Haemon's attack on his father, and Haemon's final death by suicide. The intense pain felt in the Messenger's account of the calamity in the Cave of Hades reveals he is an emotional character and takes his job as a bearer of bad tidings very seriously. His dramatic and vivid descriptions and images make the audience pay attention to what he is saying. He tells Eurydice, "I bring news to break the Queen's heart." He says that Antigone has twisted the cord about her throat "like a child's collar." He describes Haemon's eyes as "dark and burning" with anguish. Anouilh has the Messenger vividly recreate the tragic scene in the cave, so that the audience can picture and feel what it has not witnessed.

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