Reviews

Antigone by Jean Anouilh

alexi77777's review against another edition

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dark emotional reflective sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

eurydice1221's review against another edition

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3.5

actually rlly nice

celentano's review against another edition

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emotional reflective sad fast-paced

4.0

melissev's review

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reflective tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.25

pacifickat's review against another edition

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dark reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.75

Antigone: What will it be, my happiness? What sort of happy woman will she be, little Antigone. What inane little things will she have to do from one day to the next so that she can tear off with her teeth her little scrap of happiness? Tell me, who will she have to lie to, to smile at, to sell herself to? Who will she leave to die while looking the other way?

I came across this modern stageplay adaptation of Antigone by accident while trying to find an audio edition of the original Greek tragedy. This version was written and performed in France during the German occupation of WWII. It was important to its original audience as a symbol of resistance, and I think perhaps continues to carry relevance in the present.

A few key themes that stood out to me:

An interrogation of the idea of happiness being one's highest end in life:

Ismene: Antigone, please, it's all very well for men to believe in ideas and die for them, but you are a girl.
Antigone: A girl, yes! Have I cried enough for being a girl?
Ismene: Your happiness is there in front of you and all you have to do is take it. 
(19:30)

Creon: Like the rest of us, you'll learn, when it's too late, that life is a favorite book, a child playing at your feet, a tool that fits perfectly in your hand, a garden bench to rest on of an evening. [...] You'll see for yourself, that the derisory consolation of growing old is discovering that life, when all is said and done, is perhaps nothing but happiness. 
Antigone: Happiness.
Creon: It's not much of a word, is it? 
Antigone: What will it be, my happiness? What sort of happy woman will she be, little Antigone. What inane little things will she have to do from one day to the next so that she can tear off with her teeth her little scrap of happiness? Tell me, who will she have to lie to, to smile at, to sell herself to? Who will she leave to die while looking the other way?
Creon: Be quiet. Don't be silly.
Antigone: No, I won't be quiet. I want to know just what it is I have to do to be "happy". Right now, seeing as it is right now I have to decide. You say that life is so wonderful. I want to know what it is I'm going to do to live. 
Creon: Do you love Haemon?
Antigone: Yes, I love Haemon! The Haemon I love is strong and young, discerning and faithful the way I am. But, if this life of yours, if this happiness, is going to wear him down, [...] if he has to become Mr. Haemon, and he, too, has to learn to say yes, then I no longer love Haemon.
Creon: Stop it, you've no idea what you're saying.
Antigone: Oh, I know what I'm saying. It's just that you don't hear me anymore. I'm talking to you from too far away now, from a kingdom you can't enter with your wrinkles, your wisdom and your paunch. I'm laughing Creon, because I am seeing you, all of a sudden, as if you were 15 years old. It's the same look of helplessness while thinking you can do everything. [...]
Creon: Will you just shut up!
Antigone: Why do  you want me to shut up? You know I'm right. You think I can't see it in your eyes that you know I'm right? You know it but you'd never admit it. Because, right now, you're too busy trying to justify your happiness. 
Creon: Yours and mine! Yes, you stupid girl.
Antigone: You make me sick with this happiness of yours, with your life that you have to love whatever the cost. [...] With your little mundane joys, as long as don't expect too much. Well, I want it all, right now, every last bit of it. Otherwise, I don't want it at all. I don't want to be meek, and to be contented with just a little piece, just because I've been a "good girl". I want to be certain about everything, today. And, it all has to be just as wonderful as when I was small, and if it isn't, I'd rather be dead.
Creon: That's right, go on, just like your father!
Antigone: Yes, like my father! We belong to those who force the question to the very end, till there no longer remains the slightest chance of hope left alive, till the last flicker has been extinguished. We attack and smother it, wherever we find it, this hope of yours. This cherished, filthy hope of yours!
(1:12:40)

The dark comfort of simple fatalism:

Chorus: Tragedy is appropriate, it's restful, it's certain. In other types of drama -- with their traitors, their desperate villains, their persecuted innocence, their seekers of revenge, their zealots, their glimmers of hope -- dying becomes something horrible, like an accident. You could've been saved, perhaps. [...] With Tragedy, you know where you are. In the first place, you're among friends. We are all innocent when it comes down to it. It's not because one person kills and another is killed, it's a matter of how things have been assigned. But above all else, tragedy is restful, because you know there's no hope, there is no damned hope, you're trapped. Trapped, finally, like a rat, with the weight of the world pressing you down and all you can do is shout. You can't moan or complain, all you can do is scream at the top of your lungs what it is you have to say, those things you've never said, the things perhaps you never knew until now. And for nothing. To tell it to yourself, to learn it yourself. In other plays you go back and forth because you hope to find a way out. It's vulgar. It's utilitarian. This, is an end in itself. It's the stuff of kings. And there's no need to struggle anymore, finally.
(39:00)

The power of agency in tragedy, and which characters actually possess it:

Creon: It's absurd. [...] Why are you doing it? For the others, for those who believe in it, to turn them against me?
Antigone: No!
Creon: If it's not for the others, nor for your brother, then who is it for?
Antigone: Nobody... For me!
Creon: Do you really want to die? You already look like a piece of game in a trap.
Antigone: Don't feel sorry for me. Do as I do, do what it is you have to do. [...]
Creon: I want to save you, Antigone!
Antigone: You're the king, you can do anything you want. But that, you cannot do. [...] You can neither save me nor stop me. 
(54:00)

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hunky_dory_1971's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

anaa_'s review against another edition

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3.5

Livre lu pour les cours. Le théâtre n’est habituellement pas trop mon genre mais je l’ai bien aimé. Fin étonnante, personne Créon à moitié aimable. Je sais pas trop quoi dire mais c’était une bonne et courte lecture.

nessylou's review

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emotional funny reflective sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

usernesi's review against another edition

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dark emotional reflective sad tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

reginacattus's review

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slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0