The original tragedy of Antigone by Sophocles presents the dilemma of Antigone, a girl who goes against the wishes of King Creon by giving her brother proper burial. Set during a civil war in Thebes, Creon has forbidden burial of anyone who fought against the state. Antigone chooses to obey her own sense of moral rightness and disobeys Creon. As she maintains, ôI know I please where I must please the mostö (Sophocles, 1984, p. 64). By obeying what she believes is a higher law than CreonÆs man-made law, Antigone willingly sacrifices her life for her own moral code.
In Will AaronÆs version of Antigone, the characters, themes, and conflicts in SophoclesÆ tragedy are present but in a quite different setting, the U.S. Civil War during the 19th century. The theme of Antigone revolves around the dilemma between individual and state authority. Antigone believes the higher authority of the gods and her own moral code take precedence over CreonÆs dictate against burial of ôenemies,ö mainly because CreonÆs law violates a higher moral code than manÆs to Antigone. In his notes for Antigone set during the Civil War, director Aaron comments, ôàthe play contains the essence of the past, present and futureö (2004).
By setting Antigone on the battlefield during the 19th century American Civil War, the director illustrates how the theme of the play is relevant to modern society. As with Thebes in the original play, brother fought against brother in the U.S. Civil War. AntigoneÆs sister Ismene tries to dissuade her from burying her brother, but Antigone is more fearful of dying without her own sense of honor and morality in tact than she is of CreonÆs dictates. The characters in the play like Ismene and Haimon, CreonÆs son, try to protect Antigone to no avail. Because she disobeys his order and, therefore, represents a threat to his power and authority, Creon orders AntigoneÆs death. The actors in the p