antigone, essays and illness …

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A preliminary note of explanation: I was at Girl Guide camp this weekend (despite feeling slightly under the weather on Friday) and returned with a full-blown cold and no voice whats0ever. Me being me, I decided to do everything I’d normally do on a Monday (with the exception of field hockey practice, which I deemed a horrible idea) … the result of my usual overcommitment being that I woke up today feeling equally as gross as I did yesterday.
I realized that this momentary illness could not deter me from the tasks at hand, so I did finish and hand in my essay (early! Imagine that!), and I’m now sitting down to read the essays of my Thursday tutorial colleagues.

To address what I’m actually posting about, I found yesterday’s lecture on Antigone really interesting. I’ll admit that due to my busy weekend and focus on finishing my essay, I didn’t manage to read all of Antigone before the lecture. Having said that, I loved Robert Crawford’s approach to the story – it seemed entirely relatable and for me, that can sometimes be difficult. Now that I’ve actually finished Antigone I can safely say that everything Robert said was thought-provoking and I’m really looking forward to discussing it in seminar tomorrow! There were a few things about Antigone that made me think, and here they are in some semblance of detail …
1. Gender issue – I feel like this is something we’re going to discuss lots of times this year in conjunction with various works, so I’ll be brief. I think that the fact that the titular character is a woman makes a huge difference, and here’s why: Kreon says that “if she gets away with it, she’s the king”. This is a huge statement because he is a man and he fully acknowledges her position having done something he deems wrong – he says that if he allows her to get away without being punished, she will have more power than he does, despite her being a woman and not the king. I also noticed that when she refers to herself as the last of her line, she is forgetting her sister – if Ismene doesn’t ‘count’, then surely neither does Antigone herself? Gender issue is something I could argue for days so I’ll save that arguing for seminar and for my essay!
2. The Chorus. Why are they there? Back during my performing-Shakespeare days, I played the Chorus in Henry V and I think Shakespeare uses the dramatic chorus more effectively than Sophocles does. Maybe he’s just trying to fill gaps between action? All the action happened at the end of the play anyway…
3. The stage notes … every new scene had a change in the position of the sun, which was really interesting. For instance, by the end of the play, the sun has gone down (when everyone is dying) which is an interesting parallel.
4. Incest. Incest. Incest. No matter how many times I say it, I can’t think about it without shuddering a little bit – but incest is central to this play, I think. Antigone is herself the child of an incestuous marriage between Oedipus and his mother Jocasta (how this is biologically possible, I have no idea, but that’s not the point). Although Haimon (her fiancé and cousin) is clearly in love with her, I think Antigone had some weird incestuous feelings for Polyneices, her brother. ‘Marriage’ and ‘wedding’ are mentioned so many times in the time surrounding her death, and she is referred to as a ‘bride’ several times as well. Even Kreon asks her why she only cares about Polyneices and not Eteokles, her other brother.

All of this is excellent food for thought and should make for some interesting seminar discussion tomorrow (provided I have a voice to make my opinions heard!).