Contrast one aspect of Anouilh's Antigone with its counterpart in Sophocles's play.  Analyze how that difference contributes to the overall altered effect or meaning in Anouilh's version. 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the characterization of the titular character in both works represents a point of divergence.  This  contributes to the overall altered effect and meaning in Anouilh's version.  In Sophocles's construction, Antigone is convinced that why she does what she does is due to her faith in an external order.  Antigone believes that honoring her dead brother is representative of divine justice.  Her faith in this external belief system is what provides her the motivation for her actions:

I urge no more; nay, were thou willing still, I would not welcome such a fellowship.  Go thine own way; myself will bury him.  How sweet to die in such employ, to rest- Sister and brother linked in love's embrace- A sinless sister, banned awhile on earth, but by the dead commended; and with them I shall abide for ever.  As for thee, Scorn, if thou wilt, the eternal laws of Heaven.

Antigone's tireless faith in "the eternal laws of Heaven" forms the justification of her actions.  She believes that what she is doing is appropriate to a divine notion of justice.  In contrast to Creon, who adheres to the laws on earth, Antigone's faith in the transcendent is what enables her to differentiate herself from her sister and others who are more temporal in nature.  Her faith in an external order is what forms the basis of her actions and her tragic condition.  

Anouilh's construction of Antigone is not as driven by the faith in an external order.  Antigone does not act because of an absolute sense of certainty in eternal reality.  Anouilh does not show Antigone as committed to divine order or edict.  Her action is driven by a recognition that things can be better, a transformative hope to see what can be out of what is.  Antigone refers to herself as "little" throughout the drama.  This aspect of self- reference can reflect how she does not see the universal order that her Greek counterpart does.  She is merely a "small girl," a "little girl" who can no longer be "a little girl today."  This is one of the fundamental differences that feed into the altered effect or meaning in Anouilh's version.  The lack of totality feeds into how Anouilh does not see his depiction as tragic:

It is restful, tragedy, because one knows that there is no more lousy hope left. You know you're caught, caught at last like a rat with all the world on its back. And the only thing left to do is shout- not moan, or complain, but yell at the top of our voice whatever it was you had to say.  What you've never said before. What perhaps you don't even know till now.

The lack of certainty and lack of authenticity is one of the critical points of differentiation between both versions.  Sophocles's vision features a hope because Antigone dies for her beliefs.  Anouilh's vision is a world in which individuals, young people, sacrifice in the hope of what can be without the comfort or security of a value system to guide them.  It is for this reason that the Chorus in Anouilh's work speaks to how tragedy is not something evident in the modern setting, one devoid of external meaning or structure.

It is out of this lack of certainty that the entire battle between Creon and Antigone differs in both works.  In Sophocles, the tragic collision between both characters is the result of equally desirable, but ultimately incompatible courses of action.  There can be no negotiation because both characters hold fundamentally different visions of reality.  Anouilh presents a different vision.  He shows the collision between both as generational. Creon does not berate Antigone with his world vision in Anouilh's version . Rather, Creon is shown as pragmatic, willing to go along to get along.  He does not want Antigone to die, and is willing to kill others to ensure that she does not die. He even tells her of future plans he has for her, ones that do not involve her dying:  "I have other plans for you. You’re going to marry Haemon; and I want you to fatten up a bit so that you can give him a sturdy boy.”  In Anouilh's version, there is not a transcendent notion of the good that guides individuals. Everything can be compromised and individuals can be bartered down.  This is where a different effect or meaning can be seen in Anouilh's version of the Greek drama.

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sbhagley | Student, College Sophomore | (Level 1) eNoter

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Ashley, 

I really appreciate your insight into subjects I have little knowledge of and then have to try and decipher between different versions of the writers point of view. It is a peace of mind knowing someone is there for you!!! Have a great day!!!

Best, 

SaraBeth Hagley

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