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The Importance of the Chorus in Antigone
Question: What is the importance of the chorus in Antigone?
Answer: Modern readers may not be accustomed to plays containing a chorus and therefore do not understand the role it played in Greek tragedies. The chorus does the following:
- Explains the action. The chorus makes certain that the audience has enough background information.
- Interprets the action in relation to societal customs and the laws of the gods. The chorus helps teach and reinforce Greek values.
- Foreshadows. The chorus seems to know and suggest what's coming next.
- Plays a part in the drama. The chorus converses with the characters.
- Presents the author's views.
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Question: What role does fate play in Antigone?
Answer: Fate plays a major role in Greek Tragedy. To fully understand Antigone, one must be familiar with Antigone's background. Antigone's father was Oedipus. When Oedipus was born, his father, the king, went to an oracle who claimed that his new son's fate was to murder his father and marry his mother. To avoid this fate, the king sent his servant to the woods to murder Oedipus. The servant, not a big fan of infanticide, nailed the baby to a tree instead of murdering it.
As fate would have it, an old man found the baby Oedipus and raised him as his own. When Oedipus reached adulthood, he went to an oracle to know his future. The oracle told him he would kill his father and marry his mother. Thinking the old man who raised him was his father, he left immediately. As he journeyed he came across a caravan that attacked him. The caravan was led by, you guessed it, the king, whom Oedipus killed. Not long after, Oedipus rolled into town, impressed the queen (his mother) and married her (yuck). They had four children: Eteocles, Polyneices, Antigone, and Ismene. Oedipus was cursed by the gods for his sin against nature.
Antigone believes the curse continues in her and that she and her family are destined to be miserable. Sophocles, however, points out through the chorus that Antigone's choices play a role as well.
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Question: Who is the play's tragic figure?
Answer: A tragic character is of noble birth and endures a mighty fall on account of pride. Both Creon and Antigone are of noble birth; they are both proud; they both endure a mighty fall. Creon gets the edge as tragic character insomuch that he recognizes his foolishness too late. Antigone understands her fate from the beginning.
Question: What are the major conflicts in Antigone?
Answer: (1) As with all tragedies, person vs. the supernatural (fate) is involved. Antigone is destined to be miserable according to the curse on her family (this is debatable, by the way). Creon defies the gods and is punished; (2) Individual vs. Society - Antigone is one of literature's great rebels, going against an unfair king and a society that considers her gender inferior; (3) Person vs. Self - Ismene struggles to do what is right as does Creon after being visited by Teiresias.