Brecht's Antigone Compared to Sophocles Term Paper

Pages: 7 (2128 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature  ·  Written: November 4, 2018

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Antigone is Christ-like in her defiance of the evil of Creon—and he is like the Sanhedrin: unyielding, unmerciful, bent on destroying the good for no other reason than that he wants power.

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In Sophocles’ scene of Antigone before Creon, there is no such Christian imagery, namely because Sophocles wrote his play hundreds of years before Christ’s story played out in Jerusalem. Nonetheless, the scene compares well with Brecht’s: “Pass, then, to the world of the dead, and, if thou must needs love, love them. While I live, no woman shall rule me,” says Creon to Antigone (Sophocles). Creon in Sophocles’ play will not be touched by the love and affection of the humane and pious Antigone. When he says he will not be ruled by woman, he is essentially saying that he will not be ruled by love—i.e., by the love that Antigone showed for her brother in burying him and ensuring that he would be accepted in the afterlife. In Brecht’s play, Creon also despises the love that Antigone represents: “Go down below then if you want to love / And love down there. I’ll not have ones like you / Living for long up here” (Brecht 25). Ones like Antigone can be taken to be mean simple, honest Germans—human beings, who actually care about life and know how to experience love and loyalty. In Creon’s vision of things—in his realm where he is king—there can be no such love for it undermines his mission of force, of war-mongering, and of endless battle. He is a machine that will not be stopped, and thus love can have no place in his worldview.

Term Paper on Brecht's Antigone Compared to Sophocles Assignment

But of course he is stopped at last—as Argos, which he thought was defeated, is not beaten but victorious. Sophocles’ Creon is far less hateful at the conclusion of the Greek’s tragedy. He recognizes his own stupidity and admits his faults: “Lead me away, I pray you; a rash, foolish man” (Sophocles)—and he is ushered out just as his predecessor (Oedipus) was ushered at out in his tragedy. Sophocles’ Creon laments, “I know not which way I should bend my gaze, or where I should seek support; for all is amiss” (Sophocles). Brecht’s Creon only splutters more vindictive words, accusing his people of bringing about his downfall by abandoning his vision. There is no pity for Brecht’s Creon because Brecht wishes none for him. Sophocles, on the other hand, was not writing a character meant to represent Hitler—so he could at least make him somewhat pitiful.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Brecht’s updated version of Sopohcles’ Antigone hits all the right notes—it tells the story of the humane sister who buried her brother in defiance of the dictates of a cruel king. But Brecht alters it enough to make the reader realize that he is not really writing about Creon, king of Thebes and Antigone, daughter of Oedipus—but rather about Hitler, dictator of Germany and the Innocent daughters of Germany. Thus, Brecht’s updated version is a condemnation of the Third Reich.

Works Cited
  1. Barron, Stephanie. Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany. NY: Abrams, 1992.
  2. Bradberry, B. The Myth of German Villainy. IN: AuthorHouse, 2012.
  3. Brecht, Bertolt. “The Antigone of Sophocles.” 1947. http://www.socialiststories.com/liberate/The%20Antigone%20-%20Bertolt%20Brecht.pdf
  4. Cook, Bruce. Brecht in exile. Henry Holt & Co, 1983.
  5. Sophocles. “Antigone.” http://classics.mit.edu/Sophocles/antigone.html
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