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MonkeyNotes-Antigone by Jean Anouilh
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Episode VI is the heart of the play, the tragic clash between principles and personalities. Creon defends his kingly, human law, and Antigone refuses to be guided by anything other than divine law. Antigone says it is her sacred duty to bury her brother, Polynices. Creon, the dictator, puts forth the views of the state and its authority. He uses arguments of happiness in life. Antigone spits on his narrow view of material and earthly joys. For her, truth and ideals are the highest points of human joy. Creon tries to threaten and hurt her, but she is unmoved. Both strong characters come across as arrogant, proud, and unyielding. Both are right, and both are wrong, according to their particular views of the world. But Creon is defeated by Antigone's resolve. He orders the guards to take Antigone away to prison, but fears she will become a martyr and destroy his effectiveness as king.

In Episode VII, Antigone is isolated, alone with the guard. She feels terrible and for a brief moment wonders if the sacrifice is worth it. Her doubt is quickly dispelled, and she writes Haemon a farewell note, asking him to forgive her. When she questions the guard, she is told that she is to be 'immured,' or buried alive, in the Cave of Hades outside the gates of Thebes. The Chorus asks Creon to save her, but he is helpless, as he is not above the law of the land.


In Episode VIII, the Messenger brings the terrible news of the tragic events in the Cave of Hades. Haemon goes into the cave to find that Antigone has hung herself. When Creon hears Haemon's voice, he orders the cave to be opened, and he himself goes inside to find Haemon holding on to Antigone. Haemon, in anger and grief, attacks his father and then stabs himself, dying beside his beloved Antigone. The Chorus warns Creon that all is not over, for Eurydice, his good wife, has slit her throat in grief over Haemon's death. At the end of the play, Creon is all alone and envies the dead who sleep peacefully. All he has left is attending to his duties as the King of Thebes. The guards go back to playing cards, as if nothing has happened in the course of the play.

The play is tightly structured according to the principles of tragedy. The entire play takes place in a single day, in a single location, and with very few characters. The first episode serves as an introduction. The next five episodes contain the rising action, leading to the high point of the plot. The climax actually occurs in Episode VI, when Antigone refuses to meet the demands of Creon. In her stubbornness, she clings to her beliefs and totally defeats Creon. The last two episodes are the falling action, where the outcome of Antigone's idealism is revealed.

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