Sophocles Drama Questions for English 300 Literary Forms, CSU Fullerton Fall 2014



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Note: see the Journal Schedule and Instructions Page for the details on how to keep your journal, how many questions to respond to for each text, etc.

1. Do you consider Antigone or Creon the more important character in this play? Or do you consider them both equally important? In your response, consider why one or the other, or both, might deserve the title of protagonist or tragic hero. In this and all responses you choose, take care to back up what you say with references to the text itself.

2. What vision of governance or kingship does Creon set forth? Why do you think he is so insistent on upholding his vision or principle of rulership at the outset? To what extent does he remain true to that vision – when does a change in his perception occur, and why? What would you say is Creon's most important mistake? Why does he make it?

3. With what powers does Antigone align herself? What is her attitude towards Creon and his demand that his subjects should be obedient to his commands? Would you say that her mission has more to do with personal concerns than with religious piety, or would that be an unfair interpretation of her conduct? Explain.

4. Aside from simply advancing the plot, what is the significance of the Sentry in this play? How does his conduct serve as a foil for more important characters? How does that same conduct undermine Creon's claims about the best way to keep citizens loyal?

5. How important is gender in this tragedy? Does Antigone’s bad end have something to do with the simple fact that she is a woman? Explain your response either way. On the whole, how do the key male characters construe the nature and rights of the female characters, and vice versa? Optional: how does Sophocles' handling of female characters differ, in general, from the way Aeschylus treats them, if you are familiar with that playwright’s work?

6. Does the chorus in Antigone get to the bottom of why the two main characters suffer? That is, do they understand the cause and nature of the tragedy that unfolds in front of them? Or do they just go back and forth in their perceptions and answers, as sometimes happens in Greek tragedy? What principle or quality seems to animate their remarks throughout, and on the whole, what, if anything, do they add to our understanding of events? Explain.

7. How important are the gods in this play? How can we gauge or register their significance? Can you tell with whom they side? Or do they remain inscrutable, as is often said of the gods in Sophocles’ plays (as opposed to the tragedies of Aeschylus, for instance, where they usually play a prominent role)? Explain.

8. Do you think the way Antigone treats her sister Ismene is proper, given Antigone’s own insistence upon familial piety? What is the basis for Antigone's harshness towards Ismene, and how does Ismene interpret her sister’s approach to the respective claims of family and state?