Antigone -- A Modern Interpretation

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A modern interpretation of antigone... well enjoy lol

or as i would like to say:

Antigone An Oblique Extension of Homer's Odyssey enjoy

Submitted: February 17, 2008

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 17, 2008



Antigone -- A modern interpretation

The Theban Plays – Antigone
For a modern interpretation … fell free to change these names to the following and follow the setting of a wealthy family.. that has a huge business empire…. Not “les nouveaux riches” – merci!!!
Isabel (Ismene), niece to Creon -
Anne (Antigone), niece to Creon -
Cristophe (Creon), patriarch of household –
Hayden (Haemon), step-son to Creon, family heir –
Elisha (Eurydice), wife to Creon -
Terrance (Teiresias), family lawyer –
Butler (Sentry) – Jenny
Gossip Chorus – Jessica
News Chorus – Jenny

News Chorus: Hail the sun! The brightest of all that ever dawned on the state, the household of Labdacus. However, as of the latest event in the Iraq war, we can only hope the ancient family retains its honour. As we know, the army had gathered against our enemy, with armed hosts ranked in thousands. However, in angry dispute, Ethan Labdacus was lifted away from us; shot and killed in battle. But before Paul could taste the blood of his brother’s killer or exact his revenge, he fled, fled with the roar of the dragon behind him and the thunder of war in his ears. For the crime of desertion, he was marked with the oncoming torrent and was shot with fire to the ground. Today is the day that their bodies will be returned to the family and while the family does not have any comments they are willing to give to the media, I believe that Creon, the family’s patriarch, will not betray their war fame tradition. However, one must question the effects this will have on the two Labdacus sisters, Ismene and Antigone, who were especially close to their brothers.

Ismene is sitting at her vanity desk doing her makeup when Antigone rushes in.
Antigone: O, sister! Ismene, dear, dear sister Ismene! Have you heard this order, the latest order that our uncle Creon has proclaimed? Have you heard how our dearest are being treated like enemies?
Ismene: I have heard nothing about those we love, neither good nor evil, not, I mean, since the deaths of our two beloved brothers. I know no more to make me sad or glad.
Antigone: I thought you did not. That’s why I came here, where we shan’t be heard, to tell you something alone.
Ismene: What is Antigone? Black news, I can see already.
Antigone: Oh Ismene, what do you think? Our two dear brothers… Uncle Creon has given funeral honours to one brother, Ethan, but shame and ignominy to the other, Paul, not to be buried or mourned. The punishment for disobedience is disownment and ruin. So now you know.
Ismene: My poor Antigone! If this is true, what more can I do or undo to help you?
Antigone: Will you help me? Will you do something with me? Will you?
Ismene: Help you do what, Antigone? What do you mean?
Antigone: Would you help me lift the body … you and me?
Ismene: You cannot mean … to bury him? Against the order?
Antigone: Is Paul not my brother, and yours, whether you like it or not? I shall never desert him, ever.
Ismene: How could you dare, when Uncle Creon has expressly forbidden it? What will be the end of us if we try to transgress his law and defy him? Antigone, we are women; it is not for us to fight against men. May the dead forgive me, I can do no other but as I am commanded; to do more is madness.
Antigone: Then I will not ask you for your help, nor would I thank you for help if you gave it. I will bury my brother, and pay for it with happiness.
Ismene: I fear for you Antigone, I fear. At least be secret, do not breathe a word. Do not betray your secret.
Antigone: Tell the gossip columnists, publish it to the world, else I shall hate you more.
Ismene: Go then, if you are determined to your folly. But remember, those who love you, will love you still.
Antigone exits; Ismene slumps dejectedly in her chair.

Creon’s office. A desk is set up stage left, facing the doorway. Creon is sitting behind it, looking over a report.
Sentry enters, looking nervous and frantic.
Creon: Good heavens, man, whatever is the matter?
Sentry: To speak of myself first – I never did it sir, nor saw who did; no one can punish me for that.
Creon: Well, out with it and let’s be done with you.
Sentry: It is this sir. The corpse of Paul… someone has just buried it on the family plot. Dry dust over the body they scattered, in the mAntigoner of holy burial.
Creon: What! Who dared to do it?
Sentry: I don’t know, sir.
Creon: See to it, you! Upon my oath, I swear to God: either you find the perpetrator of this burial or you shall be fired – no, not your mere firing shall pay the reckoning. You shall be ruined till you tell the whole truth.
Sentry: Yes, sir.
Sentry exits.

Gossip Chorus: It seems that the infamous Labdacus family is breaking apart. Last week you heard about the very sad news: the deaths of the two Labdacus brothers and the decree made by Creon Labdacus. The perpetrator that had buried Paul’s body has been caught. Antigone! Unhappy maiden, can she have rashly disobeyed the order of the family’s king?

Sentry enters, holding Antigone.
Sentry: We’ve got her – here’s the woman who did the deed! She was burying Paul’s body with her own hands, burying the body of the man whom you said not to bury.
Creon (to Antigone): Well, what do you say – do you admit it or do you deny the deed?
Antigone: I do admit it.
Creon (to Sentry): You – you may go.
Sentry exits.
Creon (to Antigone): Did you know the order forbidding such an act?
Antigone: I knew it, naturally. It was plain enough.
Creon: Yet you dared to contravene it!
Antigone: Yes. You have no right to keep me from my own! That order did not come from God. Justice, which dwells with God above, knows no such law. I did not think your edicts strong enough to overrule the unwritten unalterable laws of God and heaven, you being only a man. They are not of yesterday or to-day, but everlasting, though where they came from, none of us can tell. Guilty of their transgression before God I cannot be, for any man on earth. Does that seem foolish to you? Or is it you that are foolish to judge me so?
Creon: You show your father’s stubborn spirit: foolish not to give way when everything’s against you. Proud thoughts do not sit well upon subordinates. As I live, you shall not flout my orders with impunity. You - my niece - should not escape full punishment – you and your sister too, your partner, doubtless, in this burying.
Antigone: Now you have caught me, will you do more than ruin me?
Creon: No, nothing more; that is all I could wish.
Antigone: Why then delay? There is nothing that you can say that I should wish to hear, as nothing I say can weigh with you. I have given my brother burial. What greater honour could I wish? All those would say that what I did was honourable, but fear locks their lips.
Creon: You are wrong. None of my family thinks you so.
Antigone: Yes, they do; but dare not tell you so.
Creon: And you are not only alone, but unashamed.
Antigone: There is no shame in honouring my brother.
Creon: You honour one, and so insult the other.
Antigone: He that is dead will not accuse me of that.
Creon: He will if you honour him no more than the deserter. Deserting his country, while the other defended it.
Antigone: Even so, we have a duty to the dead.
Creon: An enemy can’t be a friend, even when dead.
Antigone: My way is to share my love, not my hate.
Creon: Go on then, share your love among the inferior.
Enter Ismene.
Creon: You crawling viper! Two traitors plotting against my orders, unbeknownst to me. Do you admit to a share in this burying, or deny all knowledge?
Ismene: I did it – yes – if she will let me say so. I am as much to blame as she is.
Antigone: No. This is not just. You would not lend a hand.
Ismene: But I am not ashamed to stand beside you now in your hour of trial, Antigone.
Antigone: Whose was the deed? I love no friend whose love is only words.
Ismene: O sister, sister, let me share your sentence.
Antigone: You shall not suffer with me. You shall not claim that which you would not touch.
Ismene: How can I bear to stay, if you must leave?
Antigone: Ask Uncle Creon. Is he not the one you care for?
Ismene: You do yourself no good to taunt me so.
Antigone: Indeed no: even my jests are bitter pains.
Ismene: For pity, Antigone – can I not leave with you?
Antigone: No, no. You stay. My heart was long since dead and gone, so it was right for me to help the dead.
Creon: I do believe the creatures both are mad.
Ismene: Is it not likely, sir? The strongest mind cannot but break under misfortune’s blows.
Creon: Yours did, when you threw in your lot with hers.
Ismene: How could I wish to live without my sister?
Creon: You have no sister. Count her dead and disowned already.
Ismene: You could not take her – send away and ruin your own step-son’s bride?
Creon: Oh, there are other fish in the sea.
Ismene: No other truer engagement was ever made than theirs.
Creon: No son of mine – by blood or relations – shall wed so vile a creature. No more delay. Take them, and keep them within- the proper place for such women. None so brave as not to look for some way of escape when they see life stand face to face with death.
(He turns to Antigone) You are no longer a part of our family! Leave your belongings. They are no longer yours. I shall spread the word far and wide – anyone who aids you shall feel the wrath of the entire Labdacus family.
Creon leaves the room, pulling Ismene out with him at the same time, who looks on with horror. Antigone glares at everyone; angrily opens door, about to leave.

Antigone: You see me, servants, on my last steps through the rooms of my youth, going to my ruin: no wedding-day; no marriage-music. I shall not last long – the reach and power of the Labdacus family reaches far and wide. Money! Money’s the curse of man, none greater. That’s what wrecks cities, banishes men from homes, tempts and deludes the most well-meaning soul, pointing out the way to infamy and shame. Another victim of this curse I shall be, victim of my own self-will. I must go the way that lies before me. (She turns to the pictures.) I go to join my companions, who dwell in the paradise of heaven. I believe my father will be there to welcome me, my mother to greet me gladly, and you, my brothers, gladly see me come. Each one of you my hands have laid to rest, pouring due libations on your graves. It was by this service to your dear body, Paul; I earned the punishment which now I suffer. What law of heaven have I transgressed? If this is God’s will, I shall learn my lesson in death; but if my enemies are wrong, I wish them no worse punishment than mine. God of our fathers, my city, my home! Time stays no longer. No longer a daughter of your ancient and rich house, I go, because I honoured those things to which honour truly belongs.
Antigone exits.
News Chorus: Happier those are they who know not the taste of evil. From a house that Heaven hath shaken the curse departs not but falls upon all of the blood, like the restless surge of the sea when the dark storm drives the black sand hurled from the deeps and the gales boom down on the echoing shore. In life and in death is the house of Labdacus stricken. Generation to generation with no atonement, it is scourged by the wrath of God. And now for the dead dust’s sake is the light of promise, the tree’s last root, crushed out by pride of heart and the sin of presumptuous tongue.

Creon: Good morning, Teiresias. I appreciate your meeting me today. What news?
Teiresias: News you shall have, and advice if you can heed it.
Creon: There was never a time when I didn’t heed my lawyer’s advice.
Teiresias: And thereby have so far steered a steady course.
Creon: And gladly acknowledge the debt my family owes to you.
Teiresias: Then mark me now; for you stand on a razor’s edge.
Creon: Grave words from your lips, my trusted advisor. Say on.
Teiresias: I will; and you all that my knowledge can impart. I read the signs of failure. And why? The blight upon your family is your own doing. The blood that stains your family and your house is none other than the blood of Oliver spilled from the veins of his ill-fated son. Mark this, my friend: all men fall into sin. But sinning, he is not forever lost. Hapless and helpless, who can make amends and has not set his face against repentance. Only a fool is governed by self-will. Pay to the dead their due. Wound not the fallen. It is no glory to kill and kill again. My words are for your good, as is my will, and should be accepted, being for your good.
Creon: You take me for your target, sir, like all the rest. I know your art of old, and how you make me your commodity to trade and traffic in for your advancement. Trade as you will; but all the silver and all the gold will not buy a tomb for yonder traitor. But great and terrible is the fall, Teiresias, of mortal men who seek their own advantage by uttering the evil in the guise of good.
Teiresias: Is there any wisdom in the world?
Creon: Why, what is the meaning of this wide-flung taunt?
Teiresias: What prize outweighs the priceless worth of prudence?
Creon: Ay, what indeed? What mischief matches the lack of it? I say all men seek their own advantage.
Teiresias: All leaders, I say, seek gain unrighteously.
Creon: Do you forget to whom you say it?
Teiresias: No, the patriarch and our benefactor, by my guidance. Now hear this you shall give your stepson to death in payment for death – two debts to pay: one for the life you have sent to death, one for the dead still lying above the ground, not honoured, not buried. You cannot alter this, you cannot undo it. It follows of necessity from what you have done. Do I speak this for my gain? The time shall come, and soon your house will be filled with lamentation.
Teiresias exits.
Gossip Chorus: Haemon Labdacus, Creon’s step-son and heir, will return home soon. Will he come to speak his sorrow for the doom of his promised bride, the loss of his marriage hopes?

Enter Haemon.
Creon: Son, you have heard, I think, our final judgement on your late betrothed. No angry words, I hope? Still friends, in spite of everything, my son?
Haemon: I am your son sir; my life is ruled by your wise decisions, and them I shall always obey. I cannot value any engagement above your own good guidance.
Creon: Rightly said, your father’s will should have your heart’s first place. Do not be fooled, my son, by lust and the wiles of a worthless woman. No wound is struck deeper than love that is turned to hate. This girl’s an enemy; away with her, and let her go and find a husband in hell. Once having caught her in a flagrant act – the one and only traitor to this family – I cannot betray this family as well. So she must be cast out. How, if I allow disloyalty in my own family, can I hope to control my business empire? As the head of this family, I have to be a respectable leader. I must lead this family with an iron will and I must be obeyed. There is no more deadly peril than disobedience; families are ruined by it! What’s more, I would rather another man beat me than let a woman get the better of us!
Haemon: Father, there’s nothing I prize above your happiness and wellbeing. What greater good can any son desire? I say, let not your first thought be your only thought. Surely, to think your own the only wisdom, and yours the only word, the only will, betrays a shallow spirit and empty heart. It is no weakness for the wisest man to learn when he is wrong, know when to yield. So, on the margin of a flooded river, trees bending to the torrent live unbroken, while those that strain against it are snapped off. So Father, pause, and put aside your anger and be willing to listen to wise advice.
Creon: Indeed! Am I to take lessons at my time of life from a fellow of your age?
Haemon: It isn’t a question of age, but of right and wrong, honourable and dishonourable.
Creon: And was not Antigone’s act dishonourable?
Haemon: The public thinks not.
Creon: Since when do I care about public opinion? I’m responsible only to myself. You’re on the woman’s side! You plead her cause.
Haemon: No, yours and mine.
Creon: You’ll never marry her.
Haemon: If she dies, she will not die alone.
Creon: Is that a threat, you impudent –
Haemon: Is it a threat to try to argue against wrong-headedness? Oh, father, I could call you mad, were you not my father. From this hour, you shall never see me again. Let others be witness of your wickedness and folly.
Haemon exits.
Creon: Let him go! Let him rage as never man raged, he shall not save those women from their doom.

Gossip Chorus: And after this father-son argument between Creon and Haemon Labdacus, Haemon was gone in a very passionate haste. And who shall say what a young man’s wrath may do? But what of his earlier announcements of the two sisters: did the Labdacus patriarch mean to put both Antigone and Ismene Labdacus to ruin? Apparently no, not the one whose hand was innocent. It seems Ismene has been released from her sentence!
News Chorus: Where is the equal of Love? Where is the battle he cannot win, the power he cannot outmatch? But here is a sight beyond all bearing, at which my eyes cannot but weep: it has been confirmed that the woman who committed suicide by drowning a few nights ago was indeed Antigone Labdacus. Glory and praise went with the lady to her resting-place. She went with her beauty unmarred and untouched as none other that ever died before her. Sentenced to a living death, but with a name undying!

Telephone Rings, Eurydice picks up.
Eurydice: Hello? … What? … Death? And the guilt of it on living heads? Wait, who’s dead – And by what hand? … Haemon? MY SON IS DEAD?! Slain by his own hand? … You say his father’s act is what drove him to it? My husband?!
She drops phone due to shock and collapses; a nearby Sentry catches her and brings her to chair
Eurydice (speaking to herself): Sick with fear and reeled in the arms of my servants. But there is more. What else can be heard? I am not unacquainted with grief, surely I can bear more.
Eurydice (picks up phone again): … Hello? Yes, I’m … fine. … What, Antigone is dead too? How could this be!? How did it happen? … By suicide? And with his arms about her, Haemon stood lamenting his lost bride? Creon saw them? … And what did he do? You say Creon beseeched Haemon to leave his luckless love? And then? Gasps. Haemon struck out? What, Creon FLED?! And you say that Haemon turned the knife upon himself?
She drops phone again and breaks down. After a time, she stops abruptly and calmly walks out

Gossip Chorus: Creon was once an enviable man; he assumed the sovereign power of family and bore it well, saved his empire from its enemies. Truly, the honoured father of a royal family. Now, all is lost; for life without life’s joys is living death and such a life is his. Riches and rank and show of magesty and state, where no joy is, are empty, vain and unsubstantial shadows of no weight to be compared to the happiness of heart. Disaster in the royal house: Haemon Labdacus is dead, slain by his own hand, Eurydice Labdacus is also dead, the death-wound in her heart.
It seems that after fatally wounding himself, while his life ebbed out, Haemon had embraced Antigone Labdacus’s body in loose-enfolding arms, his spurting blood staining her pale cheeks.
After hearing the news of her son’s death and her husband’s role in the event, Eurydice Labdacus, as darkness dimmed her eyes, called on the dead, her elder son and this, and with her dying breath, cursed Creon Labdacus, whom she believes to be their slayer.
According to our sources, it seems all has happened as the family’s lawyer, Teiresias, said. With all these deaths in such a short period of time, it’s almost like a Greek tragedy!

Creon sits at his desk, drowning his sorrows in alcohol.
Creon: The sin, the sin of the erring soul drives hard unto death. O the curse of my stubborn will! Son, newly cut off in the newness of youth, dead for my fault, not his. I learn in sorrow. Upon my head God has delivered this heavy punishment, has struck me down in the ways of wickedness, and trod my gladness under foot. Such is the bitter affliction of mortal man. What more? She is dead? My wife, the mother of whom that is dead.
He violently gets up from chair, and breaks down.
Creon: Insatiable Death, wilt thou destroy me yet? What say you, teller of evil? I am already dead, and is there more? Blood upon blood? More death? O horror, what fate awaits me now? Is there no end to this misery for me? No man can bear this guilt but I.
I live no longer. I am nothing. I have no life. That have killed unwittingly my son, my wife. I know not where I should turn, where look for help. My hands have done amiss, my head is bowed with fate too heavy for me. Lead me away!
Creon exits.

News Chorus: Tonight, Theban News and Entertainment Tonight have joined in order to bring you this special broadcast: a memorial to those lost in the Labdacus tragedy. First, to Antigone and Haemon Labdacus: the two bodies now lie together, wedded in death, their bridal sleep a witness to the world how great calamity can come to a man through man’s perversity. Next, to Eurydice Labdacus: whose dying words were that Creon, indeed, bore the burden of two deaths.
Gossip Chorus: What is the life of a man? A thing not fixed for good or evil, fashioned for praise or blame. Chance raises a man to their heights, chance casts him down, and none can foretell what will be from what is. O wondrous subtlety of man, that draws to good or evil ways! Great honour is given and power to him who upholdeth his country’s laws and the justice of heaven. But he that, too rashly daring, walks in sin, in solitary pride to his life’s end.
News Chorus: For what presumption of man can match thy power, God? For all time to come, as in the past, this law in immutable: for mortals greatly to live is greatly to suffer. Roving ambition helps many a man to good and many it falsely lures to light desires, till failure trips them unawares and they fall on the fire that consumes them. Well was it said, evil seems good to him who is doomed to suffer; and short is the time before that suffering comes.
Gossip Chorus: An act of homage is good in itself, but authority cannot afford to connive at disobedience. We are the victims of our own self-will. To have gone your way to the outermost limit of daring and have stumbled against Law enthroned. This is the expiation: you must make for the sins of the past.
Both Choruses: Of happiness the crown and chiefest part is wisdom, and to hold God in awe. This is the law that, seeing the stricken heart of pride brought down, we learn when we are old.

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