female mask Questions and Discussion Topics:
Sophocles’ Antigone

Background and Plot: Explain the background for the play. What is the history of Oedipus and his family? Who are Eteocles and Polyneices? Why did they fight each other? What is Creon's edict and why did he decree it? What happens during the course of the play?

Character: Describe the character and motivation of Antigone, Ismene, Creon, and Haemon. How are their characters revealed? What is disclosed through their interactions and confrontations (Antigone vs. Ismene, Antigone vs. Creon, Creon vs. Haemon)? What are the major patterns of imagery in this play and how are they connected with Antigone and Creon?

Chorus: What is the role of the chorus and the choral odes in this play?

Moral Conflict: The German philosopher Hegel stated that the Antigone represents the tragic collision of right against right, with both sides equally justified. Do you agree with this interpretation? Why or why not? Describe the moral positions of Antigone and Creon and point to the scenes and dialogues which reveal them. Does Sophocles take a stand in favor of either side? How? What vision of life, morality, and the gods' relationship with men emerges from this play?

Women: What does this play have to say about women and their position in Greek society? The Greek text frequently uses masculine personal pronouns for Antigone and masculine endings on adjectives which refer to her. Why do you think this is done? What does it tell us about Greek society's perception of Antigone?

October, 1999
Barbara F. McManus
CLS 267 Topics Page