Antigone: Question and Answer
Why does Ismene object to Antigone’s plan to bury Polyneices? Possible Answer: Ismene believes the men who rule Thebes must not be disobeyed because men are stronger and their will must be respected. How does Antigone demonstrate pre-feminist ethics? Possible Answer: Antigone believes that a woman’s duty is not to the men who rule a domain, but rather to her own instincts and her own sense of right and wrong. She believes that the gods do not dictate through a ruler, but rather through individual beliefs. When does Creon become apologetic for his actions? Possible Answer:
Creon never apologizes for his actions. Instead, he simply orders Antigone to be freed because he knows that Teiresias is never wrong – and therefore that his own life is at risk. However, he never truly believes that his order to imprison her was the wrong course of action. What is the seeming reason for Haemon’s suicide? Does he kill himself only out of desperate love for the dead Antigone? Possible Answer: Haemon’s suicide seems to have two motivations – first out of anguish over Antigone’s death, but also because he is so furious with his father for having betrayed his trust.
Early in the play, Haemon tells his father that as long as he offers wisdom, Haemon will follow him. But now it is clear that his father led him astray, and for that Haemon believes that one of them must die. Why isn’t Creon killed by the plague that befalls him at the play’s end? Possible Answer: Creon’s punishment is to suffer without a family, and to suffer the guilt of knowing he destroyed the lives of innocents to preserve obsolete traditions and a misconceived legacy of misogynist rule. What is Creon’s tragic flaw?
Possible Answer: Creon’s tragic flaw is that he believes that men have the right to interpret divine will and impose absolute power in their name. As a result, a simple belief – men cannot be wrong in the face of women – is elevated to law and thus leads to multiple (unnecessary) deaths. Is Antigone ever apologetic for burying Polyneices? Possible Answer: Though Antigone bemoans her fate and believes death is a cruel and unnecessary punishment for burying Polyneices, she is never apologetic for actually covering his body.
She believes until the end that she did the right thing. Why does Antigone not allow Ismene to join her in her death sentence? Possible Answer: Antigone does not want her sister laying claim to an act that was solely hers for two reasons: one, because she wants her sister to remain alive, and two, because she wants her sister to feel the shame of abandoning her principles for the sake of staying alive and being subservient to men.
What is the role of the Chorus? Possible Answer: The Chorus is meant to reflect the conscience of Thebes – they are the elders who expect Creon to guide them towards wisdom. As they lead him astray, they begin to sense this and reflect their feelings in their choral poems. What is unusual about the Watchman’s speech? Possible Answer: Unlike the other characters, the Watchman’s speech is written in more natural rhythms and dialect.