2000 Years later: Sophocles´ Antigone vs. Anouilh ´s Antigone.

My topic appears unusual, because the Original “Antigone” was written by Sophocles 2000 years earlier.


The redesign of “Antigone’s” material by Jean Anouilh takes over a lot from the main features of the external action and also some conflict motives.

Eteocles (Étéocle) and Polynices have committed suicide mutually and Creon, the new ruler of Thebes, has forbidden to bury Polynices because he has been a betrayer. Antigone opposes the funeral ban of the new ruler, her uncle to allow the way in the Hades to her brother Polynices. With the second attempt Antigone is noted and seized. Antigone confesses to her action. Creon condemns them to the death, Antigone is enclosed in a burial chamber. Their engaged Haimon (Hémon) goes at the end on distance to his father Creon and takes the life on her side. When his mother Eurydice gets to know from his end, she commits suicide.

Scene is the King’s Palace. Events of other scenes (field with the corpse, rock chamber) will be notified  by messenger’s reports.

The sequence of scenes of ancient documents will be preserved in essential features; the modern drama has not such a so rigidly assembled structure like the Greek tragedy, but a loose sequence of scenes showing the manner of a “conversation-piece”.
Antigone appears stubborn. She emphasizes the importance of family ties, Creon the importance of the state order.


Starting point of the plot / exposure

In Anouilh the starting point of action is different, a little later (the history tells a spokesman in the prologue), with the introduction of Antigone as a wayward, unruly and educational problematic adolescents (for purposes of this exposition is the figure of the nurse invented).

Addition of a scene

There is a meeting of the engaged Antigone and Haemon. Absence of a figure: Anouilh has removed the role of the blind seer Tiresias, which a representative of the religious missing who understands the will of the gods, and an essential part of the action turnaround in Sophocles.

Role of the Chorus

With Anouilh there stands a speaker (Le Prologue; Le ch œ ur) beyond the played world and corresponds to an omniscient narrator. He forms epic, not lyrical (how the antique choir) element. However, he also enters into the action and becomes the joining in person when he takes care in the final part of Antigone´s rescue.

Kind of the Death Problem

The Death Facing Antigone´s has different reasons. With Sophocles Antigone turns to the death because her relatives are dead, with Anouilh because there is nothing what she could affirm. She does not mention her duties imposing authority. Antigone despises all human historical activity, because she is possible only in compromises, not for the unconditional.

Other Representation Creon´s

Creon is not so much a representative of undimension and arrogance (hubris), but a representative of compromises who would like to save Antigone. With Sophocles fails Creon, because he recognises too late to have spanned the curve. With Anouilh there fails Creon because he involves – in the contradictoriness of power and right – with his intransigence which Antigone forces on him by her refusal of compromises, finally, because he loses with it credibility. He wanted to test with the funeral ban whether the state authority embodied by him still functions. The pedagogic measures should serve the renewal of the state, planned to the restoration of the order after deadly quarrel in the ruling family. Creon is shown as a real politician who is brought to his cynicism and his weakness increasingly disclosed.

Other Topic

In Anouilh it is not about objective values, but feeling of existence in a world that has become questionable and different attitudes to the meaning of life. Both are based on the assumption of an absurd world without guaranteed world order. Creon wants to form the world a little reasonable by his politics and give people a little happiness in the midst of absurdity. Antigone holds on to an ideal sensible existence and rejects her offered small luck to whose acquisition she would have to do bad. She represents a negation towards a world and a behavior in which she would lose her view of purity and innocence.

Statements to the internal action also depend in certain magnitude on the Interpretation.




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