Is Jean Anouilh's Antigone a tragedy or a triumph? This is an assessment of the tragic and trimphant elements within the play 'Antigone'

Essay by EggmanHigh School, 11th gradeA+, November 2003

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Is Antigone a tragedy or a triumph

Jean Anouilh's Antigone was first produced in Paris in 1942, it is based on Sophocles' version of the novel, which was written in 442 B.C.E and performed in Ancient Greece. It is a modernist play, which has the effect of highlighting the importance of the themes of the play and lets the audience focus more fully on the tragic and triumphant elements of the play. Antigone was performed under Nazi-occupied France, the Nazi censors let the play be performed as they felt it 'helped to rationalise and justify the Nazi fascist dictatorship, and explained its startling success' . Antigone, one of the protagonists of the play, represents the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied France, whereas Creon represents the Nazi collaborators who co-operated with the Nazis in order to prevent looting and destruction in France. The play reveals the evils of dictatorship, as well as showing the motives of a dictator as rational and reasonable.

The protagonists of the play, Antigone and Creon, are also contrasted in their views of life, Creon has a pragmatic and down-to-earth personality, whereas Antigone has a philosophical, absolutist view on life where compromise is unacceptable. This can be seen through her stubborn desire to bury her dead brother Polynices, who symbolises her more generic cause. To decide whether or not the play is a tragedy or triumph one must first assess the play from Anouilh's perspective. One must thus consider the aim of the play which is to inspire the audience, the people of Nazi-occupied France, to resist the Nazi dictatorship. Therefore parts of the play that encourage resisting the Nazis must be considered triumphant and parts of the play discouraging resistance must be considered tragic. The word tragedy suggests feelings of sadness and loss,