Antigone: Never, I tell you./ if I had been the mother of children/ or if my husband died, exposed and rotting -/ I’d never have taken this ordeal upon myself,/ never defied our people’s will. What law,/ you ask, do I satisfy with what I say?/ A husband dead, there might have been another./ A child by another too, if I had lost the first./ But mother and father both lost in the halls of Death,/ no brother could ever spring to light again./ For this law alone I held you first in honor./ For this Creon, the king, judges me a criminal/ guilty of dreadful outrage, my dear brother!/ And now he leads me off, a captive in his hands,/ with no part in the bridal-song, the bridal-bed, denied all joy of marriage, raising children-/ deserted so by loved ones, struck by fate,/ I descend alive to the caverns of the dead./
What law of the mighty gods have I transgressed?/ Why look to the heavens anymore, tormented as I am? Whom to call, what comrades now? Just think,/ my reverence only brands me for irreverence!/ Very well: if this is the pleasure of the gods, once I suffer I will know that I was wrong./ But if these men are wrong, let them suffer/ nothing worse than they mere out to me- these masters of injustice!
Leader: Still the same rough winds, the wild passion,/ raging through the girl.
Creon: (to the guards) Take her away./ You’re wasting time – you’ll pay for it too.
Antigone: Oh god, the voice of death. It’s come, it’s here.
Creon: True. Not a word of hope – your doom is sealed.
Antigone: Land of Thebes, city of all my fathers-/ O you gods, the first gods of the race!/ They drag me away, now, no more delay./ Look on me, you noble sons of Thebes-/ the last of a great line of kings,/ I alone, see what I suffer now/ at the hands of what breed of men-/ all for reverence, my reverence for the gods!
Did I like the work?
To use this question as the lead question in an explication process is harmful and could possibly skewer the analysis of a passage. If I decide, prior to doing the brunt work of the explication, whether or not I like the work, I am predisposing myself to what things could possibly mean.
For sake of this however, I did enjoy the work – much more than Oedipus, in fact. I had read some version of Oedipus various times over my collegiate career but I had never read Antigone. While I felt the play was predictable, I found Antigone’s character had a duality not seen in many works during that time period. She was progressive and restricted.
Words that stood out to me:
There were not as many words that stood out to me as there were phrases. The first phrase, “For this alone I held you first in honor.” (Antigone, 1005), has some ambiguity to it that is intriguing. The lines prior to this she speaks of her individual family members. She speaks of her impending doom and consistently switches between the first and second tense. The question this phrase brings, and the others before it, is who is “you”? Is it her actual family members? Is it Creon? The Leader? The Chorus? The physical city of Athens? The gods? The meaning of this passage relies on who the reader, or in case of the preformed play, the viewer, determines is “you.”
The next notable line, “And now he leads me off, a captive in his hands,” suggests Antigone’s actual point of view, which, in turn, is the moral for the story. Her predestined time on this earth has been cut short by Creon – not the gods. The point is it is not the god’s will to kill people for disobeying a king. It is the king’s will. She is captive in Creon’s hands for properly displaying her faith.
The next line is one of the more aesthetically pleasing lines of the play. “I descend alive to the caverns of the dead” is the beginning of Antigone’s oratory climax. The end of a five-line sentence, everything she utters after this are shorter, decisive points.
One more note, because I fear this is taking away from the points I will have in the essay. The last words Creon speaks to Antigone are “True. Not a word of hope – your doom is sealed.” In this line “sealed” has a double meaning. Her punishment is to be locked in a cave of which they will seal off and she cannot escape that fate. It’s appropriate wordplay by Sophocles.
What feelings does this give me?
I think this point can also be misleading. Acheson focuses too much on applying personal feelings when she should be focusing the student to question what feelings the story resonates and why they resonate them. What was the author’s intent for writing the work in that specific fashion.
The feelings Antigone resonates within me are feelings of despair, of desperation. This speech is Antigone’s last gasp. It is her personal requital before the eyes of society, the gods, fate.
Do I identify with any of the people represented?
This is another bad note. Like her feelings suggestion I think this is a way too personal approach to prepare for a collegiate essay.
For sake of the assignment the closest person I could identify with would be Antigone. I think most people at some point in time have been persecuted for doing something they believed to be morally just – with varying severities.
Is there anything about how it’s written that makes it stand out?
From the entrance of Creon prior to the chorus speaking at 959, Antigone dominates the conversation. She has eight speaking parts compared to three for Creon and one a piece for the Leader and the Chorus. Antigone’s speech moves in a fashion that mirrors plot structure. She lays the exposition of the incident, what the inciting incident was, gradually rises, climaxes, falls, and ends with the appropriate denouement that foreshadows the ending of the play.
What is the work about?
Antigone is about the difference between the will of the people and the will of the gods and how the people can misuse the will of the gods for their personal use. It is about self-actualization and being able to adjust to a scenario for the good of those around you.