Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Paul L. Soper

Committee Members

Albert J. Harris, G. A. Yeomans


Man is truly a marvelous creation. His special gifts include the ability to think and reason as well as the ability to imagine and create. Sophocles and Anouilh, despite the winds of time that separate their literary achievements, are two examples of imaginative, creative literary giants. This thesis is an in-depth study of two tragedies which are both based on an ancient Greek myth and which are both called Antigone.

Chapter I begins with a comparison of the action, time, key themes and patterns which are evident in the two tragedies. Many important passages which illustrate the attitudes and relationship of the major characters are explored. Intricate analysis is presented of the parallelism as evidenced in the two plays. This study of each play begins with Antigone’s headstrong decision to follow her own conscience as it relates to King Creon’s edict, an edict which denies Polyneices the right of burial. The breakdown of the plot ends with the unpleasant, immediate and far-reaching consequences of Antigone’s decision which the king must face.

Chapter II deals with the role of Sophocles’ Chorus and of Anouilh’s Chorus as evidenced in the two dramas. In this section reference is made to the famous Sophoclean Odes. Finally, comparisons are cited which deal with the reaction of Sophocles’ Leader of the Chorus and Anouilh’s Chorus, to important situational developments. Remarks are quoted which range from their discovery that Antigone has broken the proclaimed law of the land to comments upon the triple tragedy in Thebes.

Chapter III explores still additional contrasts between the plays which may be pinpointed as a result of researching the divergent religious and philosophical views valued by Sophocles and Anouilh. This investigation into the realm of the personal beliefs held by these writers helps explicate why in Sophocles’ Antigone the heroine nobly dies to uphold a spiritual tradition rather than a man-made statute and why in Anouilh’s Antigone the iconoclast dies to revenge her idealistic view of life rather than accept a fading compromised “purity.”

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