Antigone – Oldest Daughter or King Oedipus
ANTIGONE The major characters are: Antigone ? oldest daughter or King Oedipus Ismene ? youngest daughter of King Oedipus Creon ? King of Thebes Antigone and Ismene lost both of their brothers in a battle against the City of Thebes. Eteocles is the younger of the two and Polyneices. Eteocles claimed his kingship after his father, King Oedipus was exiled from the City of Thebes for incest and patricide. He also exiled his brother. Polyneices was angered by these actions and decided to declare battle against the City of Thebes. In this battle, the brothers killed each other.
Once the battle ceased, the new King of Thebes, Creon, decreed that Eteocles was to be buried with a hero’s honor while Polyneices was to be buried in disgrace; his body was to rot away and eaten by dogs. When Antigone heard of this decree, she became upset and was persistent in her oldest brother’s body being buried so that “his spirit can be at peace. ” Her sister, Ismene advised her against pursuing this issue and to abide by the King’s decree. Antigone ignored her sister’s advice and heads to the battlefield where her oldest brother lay and began burial rites.
After learning of this disobedience, King Creon incarcerates Antigone and Ismene setting an execution for both sisters. King Creon then changes his mind after learning from Antigone that Ismene had nothing to do with the burial; he sets Ismene free and sends Antigone to a cave to starve to death. Because of this harsh sentencing, along with the burial refusal of Polyneices, the profit Teiresas visits King Creon with a message from the gods that they are angered because of these acts and as a result King Creon’s son, Haemon will die. King Creon ignores the prophet’s message.
Later, he becomes concerned for his son because the Chorus of Theban (the elders) people tells him that Theibus is never wrong. King Creon tried to correct his mistakes by giving Polyneices a proper burial and freeing Antigone from the cave. It was too late for Antigone because she committed suicide by hanging. In general, seeing a play gives pleasure to the audience because of the anticipation of what is to be expected and the interaction between the performers and audience. Stimulating the intensity of reaction is definitely fulfilled in this play because of the performance of the characters.
For example, King Creon’s insensitive treatment of his people was emotionally touching because one can relate it to some life experience whether it be spousal relationship, an insensitive boss, a co-worker, etc. Kings are suppose to be Shepards over their people by guiding them in a positive way and protect them. His portrayal of a ruthless king is believable and can be compared to the Kings of biblical time such as King Herod and King Nebuchadnezzar; this also presents the normal behavior of most kings for this time period.
All were tyrants and in the end suffered the consequences of their actions either through loved ones or themselves because of their disobedience and ignoring the prophets and/or laws. For example, it was sad to see Eurydice stab herself when she learned of her son Haemon’s death because she had nothing to do with King Creon’s decision, she suffered in the end. She felt a great loss and ended her life the same way her son did, by stabbing. This is also felt when Ismene tells King Creon she helped her sister with the burial rites so that they could be punished together. Emotions are touched in this play with a number of the characters.
Anyone can relate to their loved one(s) not being properly buried and the reaction would be the same; to get a proper burial done. Also, to be punished for doing what is right in your heart bring about emotions. For example, when Antigone performed the burial rites over her oldest brother she was punished for doing the right thing. Even though King Creon was cruel, you felt sorry for him at the end when he lost his entire family and this is portrayed by his performance of making the audience feel his pain through his believable reaction to the news. This is another life experience.