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MonkeyNotes-Antigone by Jean Anouilh
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EPISODE IV

Summary

The Chorus now comes onto the stage, lit by the bright, mid- afternoon sun. The Chorus pauses to indicate that a crisis has occurred. A crucial moment of the play has been reached. Tension mounts as the Chorus says, "The spring is wound up tight. It will uncoil of itself. That is what is so convenient in tragedy". Their words are really Jean Anouilh's voice.

In its lecture on tragedy, the Chorus observes that once the trigger is pulled, "the rest is automatic"; the outcome of a tragedy if inevitable. They add that tragedy is "clean, restful, and flawless". The Chorus than contrasts tragedy to melodrama. They judge tragedy as superior, due to its noble ending, whereas melodrama is vulgar and slow in its struggle to escape.


Notes

This brief episode is expository and does not to advance the plot. The Chorus comes onto the stage to make a speech about tragedy. Through the Chorus, Jean Anouilh mocks the conventional cause of tragedy, the tragic flaw. The Chorus comments on the tightly wound-up spring that will uncoil itself automatically. A little incident may trigger a series of cataclysmic events leading to a dreaded end.

Jean Anouilh re-defines tragedy as clean, restful, and flawless. He contrasts it to melodrama, which he judges as cheap and loud, with villains, avengers, horrible deaths, and many attempts at escape. In a tragedy, there is no doubt about the dreadful outcome and no attempt to escape it. The characters rarely moan or complain about their tragic fate. As a result, true tragedy is lofty and sublime; it is also powerful, moving, and memorable. It is a part of human destiny that no man can evade the tragic consequences of his actions.

Antigone is a perfect example of a tragic heroine. She does not lie about burying Polynices; she does not try to escape; and she is not afraid of her inevitable death. Antigone also shows that even a minor incident can have a cataclysmic effect. When Antigone throw a little dirt on the body of Polynices, it leads to doom in an avalanche of events.

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