This paper explores the relevance of the plot and theatrical elements of the great Greek tragedy, Antigone. It explains how even though Antigone was written thousands of years ago it is still important today; it is a play that all can relate to in some way. It also discusses my personal reactions to the play: what I liked, what I didn’t like, and what I thought could have been done differently for the improvement of the play.
Antigone was written as the last play in a trilogy of tragedies.
As one of the last remaining thirty-one plays from Ancient Greece, Antigone contains a plot and theatrical practices that were not only appreciated and relevant back in the days when it was written but that are also appreciated and relevant now.
In the play, Antigone breaks the law by giving her brother a proper burial even though her king, Creon, has deemed him a traitor. She is caught in the act, and, as her punishment, forced into a cave where she will starve and die.
Her fiancee, Creon’s son, begs Creon to release her, but Creon will not. Only after the seer tells Creon that if he does not spare Antigone the Gods will take vengeance does Creon go to Antigone’s cave to release her. Unfortunately, Antigone has already killed herself, and so has Creon’s son, out of heart break.
The overall theme of this play-to stand up for what one believes is right-morphs as the plot goes on. At first, we see Antigone: a young, strong girl doing what she thinks is right (burying her brother) even though she knows it’s against the law. Throughout the plot, she stands by her decision, even when faced with her own demise. She never stops standing up for what she believes is right.
King Creon, on the other hand, starts off believing that not burying the traitor brother is right, and anyone who defies his order should, rightfully, be put to death. He stands by this belief, even when the perpetrator is his son’s fiancee. But once he finds out that the Gods are not pleased with is decision to leave the brother unburied and to punish the sister, his belief quickly adapts. His character and his belief of right and wrong changes, showing the second part of the theme-what you believe is right may not always be right, and you need to be prepared to deal with the consequences. These themes are part of what makes the play relevant throughout the ages.
Another part of what makes the play relevant throughout the ages are the theatrical practices. Since it’s a Greek tragedy, there are some theatrical practices that are outdated or not used in modern plays, such as the Chorus. However, the language, costumes, sets, lighting, and other technical elements used are simple enough that any theatre could easily produce this play. All they’d have to do is recreate the kind of dress that was worn in Ancient Greece.
This play leaves quite a bit to the imagination of the director, actors, and designers. For example, it never describes the set in extreme, minute detail. This menas that the designers can make the set look just about anyway they want as long as they stick to the general outline of where the scene is taking place. Also, it never describes the characters in minute detail. This means the actors and directors can portray the characters however they wish as long as they stay true to the characters personality.
As a reader, I very much enjoyed this play. The theme is one that all can relate to and learn from. It’s carried throughout the play very well, making the lesson and overall moral of the play easy to learn.
The only thing that could have been done differently to make the play better, in my opinion, would be to give more description of the set and characters. Then, the reader could picture them better, but the actors could still depict them however they see fit.
Even though Antigone was written thousands of years ago, it’s plotline and theatrical practices make it relevant and relatable today. That is what makes this great tragedy such a great classic.