Burial at Thebes
Mia Britton Mrs.Baker DRA 110 4 March 2013 The Burial at Thebes The play Burial at Thebes is a modern translation of Antigone by Sophocles and Seamus Heaney is credited for this recent translation.The plot structure used in Heaney’s work can be described as episodic.
This play stands out as episodic because of its early point of attack. For example, at the start of the opening scene Antigone approaches her sister Ismene with news that King Creon has issued a proclamation that their brothers body should not receive a proper burial, and that anyone trying to bury him will be stoned to death.
She intends to resist the law and bury Polynecies but, Ismene refuses to assist Antigone. Therefore, Antigone disowns Ismene and pledges never to accept her aid. Another example of episodic play structure in The Burial at Thebes when Eurydice hears from the messengers the death of her son she leaves in silence and King Creon returns with his dead son Haemon in his arms. The messengers approach King Creon with grievous news that his wife Eurydice has taken her life. These examples prove that Seamus Heaney’s work is episodic because after one incident another incident approaches.
The protagonist can be defined as the central character in a play or the person who the story is about and experiences the most changes. In Seamus Heaney’s play there are two possible protagonists Antigone and Ismene. Antigone can be considered a protagonist because the play revolves around her rebelling against the King and his resolution to not bury her brother’s body. Another protagonist is Ismene because during the opening scene she tells Antigone that she will not assist her in burying her brother.
As the course of the play continues Ismene realizes what is right and defends her sister against King Creon by saying that she will die along with her sister. Ismene also tries to convince King Creon to not take her sisters life by asking him whether he would kill the bride of his son since Haemon is meant to marry Antigone. Ismene’s attitude changes from a noble citizen to that of a martyr. An antagonist can be defined as a person who is opposed to the protagonist or the goal of the protagonist. In Burial at
Thebes King Creon appears to be the antagonist because he is against burying or awarding any ceremonial rights to Antigone and Ismenes brother. As the play begins King Creon tells the elders of Thebes that anyone who awards a proper burial for Polyneices would be put to death. When King Creon finds about Antigone’s actions he declares that both sisters will be put to death. Antigone explains that she knew of his decree and she only answers to Zeus, the gods didn’t lay down these laws for manipulation, and that she will endure the god’s judgment for the burial.
King Creon decides that he doesn’t want the blood of Antigone on his hand so he believes the best way to take her life is by burying her under rocks with food. These acts made by King Creon are evidence that he is the antagonist in the play Burial at Thebes. The play Burial at Thebes was intended to teach and educate its audience on societies and politics. Seamus Heaney displays a powerful King that doesn’t take advice from anyone. A few examples of King Creon not heeding to advice is first seen when his son Haemon tries to urge him to be open to both opinions.
He dismisses his son calling him a woman slave. Even the elders’ question King Creon’s by stating that he should listen to his son’s request. Creon becomes irritated and questions the elders whether they should be taught by a young boy. King Creon was also approached by Teirasis and says, “The gods do not take the prayers or sacrifices of the Thebans, and the birds’ cries are muffled because the birds’ throats are glutted with the blood of Polyneices”. Teiresias explains the significance of taking counsel, and says that a man who makes a mistake and then corrects it brings no shame on himself.
King Creon once again does not heed to wise counsel and believes that just because he has authoritative power that he doesn’t require counsel. Seamus Heaney also exhibits bravery in his characters in which his audience members can learn from. For example, not only did Antigone represent bravery, but Haemon exemplified Bravery by standing up to his father. These acts of bravery appeared small at the beginning, but towards the end of the play they actually made a difference. All in all, these examples proved that Seamus Heaney’s work is educational and displayed politics.