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MonkeyNotes-Antigone by Jean Anouilh
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List of Characters

Major

Antigone

The younger daughter of King Oedipus of Thebes, and Jocasta, who is his mother. Antigone buries her brother, Polynices, against the orders of the current King of Thebes, Creon. She is a tragic but powerful figure, a rebel, and a quiet girl. Her character brings out the conflict between human and divine law. She desires happiness, but refuses compromise.

Creon

King of Thebes and brother of Jocasta. He is an art patron and a leader of men. Judged to be strong-willed and fair, he is promoted to the throne after the deaths of his nephews, Polynices and Eteocles, who were the sons of Oedipus. Greatness is thrust upon him, and like a conscientious worker, he does his job. He is too proud to listen to his son or to the public. After the deaths of Antigone, Haemon, and Eurydice, he is left alone. He stoically decides to do his duty.

Ismene

The elder daughter of King Oedipus. She is much more beautiful than Antigone and also more obedient and less emotional. She belongs to the world of law and order. She understands Creon's reason for issuing the edict that no one should bury Polynices, the traitor brother of Antigone and Ismene.

Nurse

A humble, devoted old woman. She loves Antigone, but is worried about her strange ways. She is also loyal to the princesses.

Haemon

The handsome young son of Creon and Eurydice. He is in love with Antigone and is engaged to her. A fair-minded man, he believes that justice should be tempered with mercy. He boldly advises his father, Creon, not to punish Antigone for her violation of the law. He is upset at her disobedience, but remains loyal to her. He would die rather than live without her. He likes dancing, sports, and women. People had thought that he would marry the beautiful Ismene, but he suddenly turns to Antigone, the quieter one.


Chorus

A group of characters who comment on the action of the play. The function of the Chorus in a Greek play is to act as the narrator and form a backdrop for the events of the drama. Besides recounting the past action, Anouilh's Chorus comments on the motives and the conduct of the chief actors. The Chorus acts as the mediator between the audience and the actors on the stage and introduces the cast with pointed remarks. In Antigone, the Chorus also presents the plot, and in the end, it judges Creon's inhuman act impartially and objectively.

Minor

Eurydice

Creon's wife, who is a calm and kind queen. She does not speak at all, and the Chorus comments on her quiet but firm nature in the end. She is knitting for the poor of Thebes when she is informed of her son's death. She rises calmly and deliberately, goes up to her bedroom, and kills herself. Her act of suicide is a silent protest against her husband's cruel ways. She is a good and loving woman, but she is no help to her husband.

First Guard (Jonas), Second Guard (a Corporal,) and Third Guard

The citizens whose duty is to act as policemen. The first of the three guards is entrusted with the job of guarding outside the gates of Thebes, where Polynices' corpse is lying. The Chorus calls the guards red-faced card players. One smells of garlic and another of beer, but they are not a bad lot, only crude. They roughly handle Antigone when they handcuff her, and they break the news of her death penalty to her in a cold-blooded manner. In fact, they are always cold and impersonal in the execution of their duty. They are ordinary mortals. Professionally, as policemen, they are eternally innocent. No matter what crimes are committed, they remain indifferent, and nothing that happens affects them. People respect them, but they have no real power.

Messenger

A pale young man, who has the premonition of a catastrophe. He is unsociable and broods over his sad news. He comes in at the end of the play to break the news of Antigone's live burial and Creon's desperate entry into the cave. He witnesses Antigone's suicide by hanging and Creon's combat with his son, Haemon, who then kills himself.

Page

A young lad. He is King Creon's constant companion. Creon asks the page if he would be willing to die for him and does not wait for an answer. The boy is like his shadow, ever at his side.

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