In not only makes Antigone a heroine

In Jean Anouilh’s version of the play, Antigone, the protagonist, Antigone, is interpreted as a member of the resistance to despotism that parallels the antifascist French resistance against the Nazi occupation. Anouilh’s controversial play was performed in 1944 under Nazi-controlled Paris, so when Antigone sacrifices her life as she defies the oppressive ruler Creon, Anouilh not only makes Antigone a heroine but also a symbol for resistance. Anouilh based his play on Sophocles’ version of this novel, which was written in 442 BC in Ancient Greece. However, Anouilh uses different literary devices such as anachronisms, allusions, similes and symbolism to relate the story to the most disturbing dilemma during his time in the 1940’s. As such, the play Antigone can be interpreted as a political allegory.During World War 2, the audience recognizes Creon as a representation of the Vichy government and identifies Antigone as the French Resistance. The Germans do not object or prohibit the play because there are not any conspicuous elements. Creon is compared to Marshal Petain, the President of Vichy France during World War 2: “A real hero, a just ruler, a slave to his duty who sacrifices everything that is dear to him for the sake of his country.” (Anouilh, p. xlvii) Creon has a pragmatic personality and his arguments originate from the idea of compromise. This can be compared to Petain compromising with the Germans. On the other hand, Antigone is a freedom fighter who argues for freedom and has a more thoughtful, absolutist perspective on life where compromise is intolerable. Throughout the play, Antigone watches Creon’s government belittle and asperse the individual conscience of the citizens of Thebes, while Creon tries to convince Antigone that he is protecting the country from turmoil. This kind of argument is similar to the one that the Vichy government used to legitimize itself. Antigone is prepared to resist Creon’s despotism alone. She is compared to the French Underground, disobeying Creon’s order by secretly burying her brother.On the surface, although the play is set in ancient Greece, Anouilh used anachronisms such as coffee and nightclubs to create a disorienting effect to muddle the time period in which the play is taking place. This allows the audience to view a familiar tragedy play while relating it to the time period of the Nazi occupation in the 1940s.  To many people, this play is a political allegory and the character, Antigone, is an important figure who vocalizes the most powerful of personal and social politics. Since Anouilh produced this play during World War 2, it was staged under Nazi-occupied France, and the Nazi censors authorized the play and allowed it to go on because they believed that this play helped justify and showed the surprising success of the Nazi fascist dictatorship. In their eyes, Creon is a hero, and Antigone is a “degenerate, unintelligent madwoman whose revolt produces only anarchy, disaster, and death.” (Anouilh, p. xlvii) Despite the Nazis’ interpretation of the play, the majority see Antigone as the face to defy and justify the pernicious components of the Nazi ideology: expansion, racial purity, power, and militarism. As Antigone symbolizes the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied France, Creon represents the Nazi collaborators who cooperated with the Nazis in order to prevent plunder and destruction in France. From the beginning, Anouilh uses symbolism to represent the characters in the play. In the prologue, the omniscient Chorus addresses the audience and presents all of its players. The Chorus introduces the guards as “those three red-faced card players—they are the guards. One smells of garlic, another of beer; but they’re not a bad lot. They have wives they are afraid of, kids who are afraid of them; they’re bothered by the little day-to- day worries that beset us all. At the same time—they are policemen: eternally innocent, no matter what crimes are committed; eternally indifferent, for nothing that happens can matter to them. They are quite prepared to arrest anybody at all, including Creon himself, should the order be given by a new leader.” (Anouilh, p.5) The three Guardsmen are important to the political allegory to represent both the fascist collaboration and the French police who betrayed their own citizens in support of the Nazis. They are created in a more foolish and indistinguishably sense by being grouped in three. With the mention that the Guards have wives and children, the audience sees that individually they are not bad people, but their job is to indifferently implement the commands and orders of their superiors. This indifference not only hardens them, also but makes them dangerously cruel as they are immune to the effects of tragedy. The guards are a symbol in the matter that authority over the law determines enforcement of the law. Using symbolism and similes, Anouilh further portrays Antigone as the embodiment of a fascist heroine and Creon as the cruel and oppressive Nazi regime. When Antigone finds out about Creon’s weakness, she makes a declaration, “Poor Creon! My nails are broken, my fingers are bleeding, my arms are covered with the welts left by the paws of your guards—but I am a queen!” (Anouilh, p.39) Here she gives an encouraging message to the Resistance as Antigone remains a tragic figure. Her insistence and her desire to resist tyranny is beyond human logic which makes her a beautiful martyr.  Furthermore, when Antigone and Creon are arguing, Antigone states, “You disgust me, all of you, you and your happiness! And your life, that has to be loved at any price. You’re like dogs fawning on everyone they come across. With just little hope left every day- if you don’t expect too much… I don’t want to be sensible , and satisfied with a scrap! I want to be sure of having everything… Otherwise I prefer to die.” (Anouilh, p.46) Anouilh uses a metaphor to compare Creon and the Nazis to dogs who use flatter to get everything they want, while citizens are left with left over scraps. Antigone and the French resistance freedom fighters are willing to die rather than to live in these horrific conditions.  Anouilh’s interpretation of Antigone is a political message that shows empathy for the French people under the Nazi occupation. Since the setting is the rise of Nazi power towards the end of World War II, Antigone’s ultimate sacrifice with her own life for justice is a powerful theme. Anouilh relates the original characters in this play to different groups who participated on different sides in the French Resistance. Creon represents the Nazi fascist dictatorship, and the Guards are the French police or fascist collaborators who supported the Nazis. Antigone, who is the most powerful symbol of the play, is a member of the resistance to despotism that parallels the antifascist French resistance against the Nazi occupation. With the use of different literary devices in his play, Anouilh effectively moves his audience and enables the audience to see through Antigone’s eyes the importance to join the French Resistance to defy the Nazi occupation.  

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