Jean Anouilh’s Antigone is an adaptation of Sophocles’ tragic play of the same title. Written in 1942, when Nazi forces occupied France, the story revolves around the conflict between the idealist Antigone and her rigid uncle, Creon, over the proper burial of Antigone’s brother, Polynices. The play was also interpreted to represent the struggle of the French Resistance movement against the forces of the Vichy government during the height of Nazi occupation.
Antigone is one in a series of Anouilh’s plays based on Greek mythology. Disillusioned and shocked by the events of World War II, he also wrote Eurydice (1942) and Médée (first performed in 1937; published 1946), which were also adapted versions of the original Greek classics. These plays explored the role of destiny in people’s lives.
Often considered his masterpiece, Antigone cemented Anouilh’s reputation as a dramatist. The play was an instant success when it was first staged in Paris in 1944.