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Essay on Light and Dark in Antigone

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Use of Light and Dark in Antigone

 
The "Golden Age" of Greece is noted for its many contributions to the creative world, especially in its development of the play. These performances strived to emphasize Greek morals, and were produced principally for this purpose. Antigone, by Sophocles, is typical. The moral focused on in Antigone is the conflict between physis (nature) and nomos (law), with physis ultimately presiding over nomos. Throughout Antigone, King Creon is a symbol for nomos, while Antigone stands on the side of physis. To portray these ideas, light and dark images are used as a recurring motif to reinforce the theme. Light is used to show something good that is happening, whereas dark is utilized to show something of which the gods disapprove. Following with tradition, this play uses light to portray what is right in the eyes of the chorus and darkness to reproach the other side. As the play is carried out, the chorus is constantly changing its opinions, first believing in the actions of Creon with respect to nomos, then unsure of what to believe, and finally seeing that Antigone's actions are more consistent with the morality of the gods and the truths of physis. Light and darkness are used to support in an emotional way the action of whoever the chorus is siding with at these various stages of the play.

It is clear that at the beginning of Antigone, the chorus favors the actions of Creon, or nomos. This is shown as Creon's intentions and retribution towards Polyneices are justified by jovial words and imagery involving light. In the battle between Eteocles and Polyneices, although both leaders were killed, Eteocles' army was the victor. To show that this was positive in the eyes of the gods, the first lin...


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... with connection to nomos was too high, and images referring to him are now dark and dismal. The play ends as the gods have turned their shoulder on Creon, and have made their final decision that Antigone is ultimately in the right.

Because the sole purpose of Antigone is to get a moral point across, the parallels between light and dark and physis and nomos are associated together, and used metaphorically to add diversity and imagery to an otherwise redundant script. In the first scenes, these light and dark images show the reign of Creon. These are followed by the indistinct and ironic middle scenes, and end with the gods choosing Antigone's actions over Creon's, leaving Creon spiritually dead and paying for his poor choices and conduct. These are very effective techniques, which allow Sophocles to more fully develop his play, and give it a more emotional edge.


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