Theatre History Antigone

EN 207: Theatre HistoryAntigone Discussion and Study Questions

Link to 1984 production directed by Don Taylor (note: the text was translated by Don Taylor as well, and so it is not the same as our book. You still need to read our book; do not view the video in place of reading the assigned book): https://youtu.be/8bSnnufOx80

1.) In his Poetics, Aristotle says that dramatic works should adhere to three “unities.” Find at least three examples that illustrate that what is happening on stage shows Sophocles adhering to the principle of “unity of time.”

2.) In his Poetics, Aristotle says that dramatic works should adhere to three “unities.” Find at least three examples that illustrate that what is happening on stage shows Sophocles adhering to the principle of “unity of place.”

3.) In his Poetics, Aristotle says that dramatic works should adhere to three “unities.” Define “unity of action.” If Sophocles had ignored this priciple, which character or moment in the action would you like to see expanded into a subplot, and how would that play out?

4.) In his Poetics, Aristotle says that the best tragic plots should create catharsis by arousing fear and pity. Find at least three examples from throughout the play in which Sophocles adheres to this aesthetic by creating moments of suspense. How does Sophocles attempt to craft dramatic suspense and at the same time adhere to the unities?

5.) In his Poetics, Aristotle says that the best tragic plots should create catharsis by arousing fear and pity. Find at least three examples from throughout the play in which Sophocles adheres to this aesthetic by creating moments in which the audience is encouraged to sympathize with a character. What patterns do you see in Sophocles repeating in his writing when it comes getting his audience to feel pity?

6.)  In his Poetics, Aristotle says that the “tragic hero” has several characteristics:

a.) S/he is not a “bad guy,” malicious, or evil. S/he experiences misfortune, but not as a result of having committed a vile act.

b.) S/he is virtuous, but not perfect.

c.) S/he is highly renowned and prosperous.

Considering this definition, who is the tragic hero of the play—Antigone, or Creon? What is the difference between a tragic hero and a protagonist?

7.) A “foil” character is one that is meant to reflect another character, bringing out the other characters attributes by comparison and contrast. The foil has to have enough similarities to make the difference(s) between the characters stand out. How is Ismene a foil to her sister Antigone? Are there other foil characters you can identify in the play?

8.) One way Creon attempts to establish sovereign control is through what Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish would describe as ritual public spectacles of control over human bodies. What do the suicides in the play mean if we consider the suicides in the context of Creon’s attempt to control his subjects’ bodies?

9.) How does gender function in this play? Specifically, what does it matter, to the characters in the play, that Antigone is a woman?

10.) What are the functions of the Chorus in this play? How do the Chorus sections relate to the named character sections? Compare the four movement of the Chorus on pages 13-14 to Antigone’s conversation with Creon on pages 16-17.