Literature Study GuidesAntigonePart 10 Late Afternoon Summary

Antigone | Study Guide

Jean Anouilh

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Antigone | Part 10 (Late Afternoon) | Summary

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Summary

The play rapidly winds down in the final scene. In late afternoon a messenger announces he has news for the queen. Before he finds Eurydice, he shares his message with the Chorus: no sooner had Antigone been walled up than those outside heard Haemon moaning within. Everyone including Creon worked furiously to reopen the cave. There they found Antigone hanging by the neck, Haemon clutching her body. Haemon rose up, struck his father with his hand, and drew his sword; then he killed himself, eyeing his father spitefully.

Creon enters and the messenger leaves. The Chorus tells Creon that Eurydice has committed suicide as well. Creon wearily tells his young page that, in spite of everything that has happened, there is still work to attend to. He adds, "Never grow up if you can help it." The two depart for a cabinet meeting.

The Chorus addresses the audience one last time, remarking that the survivors "won't remember who was who or which was which," adding Antigone "has played her part." The last scene reveals the three guards playing cards.

Analysis

In spite of the deaths of his wife and son, Creon remains steady in his resolve to continue working: "If we didn't do it, who would?" He doesn't blame himself for what happened; he blames the necessity of being an adult.

The Chorus echoes something Antigone said in her cell: "If it had not been for Antigone, they would all have been at peace." But he blames her no more than Creon blames himself. Ultimately, he seems to say, none of this matters. No matter what anyone believed, all were "caught up in the web without knowing why." His words recall the idea he introduced in the Prologue: the characters more or less blindly play their roles. As if to reinforce this idea, the final scene shows the three guards doing what they were doing in the Prologue: they play cards, something people do to while away the time when there is nothing important to attend to. Their role has nothing to do with the quarrels of kings and princesses. These ordinary people, the Chorus suggests, exist on a different plane, and that plane—the plane of mundane, insensible existence—is the one the audience is left with.

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