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Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Tomb O' Doom

We have a running list of things that we consider to be the most potent nightmare-food around: birthday clowns, radioactive pigeons, sharks that learn how to infiltrate community swimming pools...

But on the top of our list is being buried/entombed alive. Shudder. This is one of the many, many reasons that Antigone is one of those plays we just do not read before going to bed.

Images of tombs and burials pop up a lot in the Oedipus plays. In Antigone, Creon causes all kinds of problems by bungling issues of burial. The prideful king has committed a double blasphemy by letting Polyneices's body go unburied, while entombing Antigone when she's still alive. At points we feel like saying, "No, no, Creon. It's the dead ones that go in the ground." The symbolic paradox of Creon's double blasphemy, shows just how far from sensible Creon's hubris has taken him.

Also, Antigone's fearless march to her own entombment and talk of being a bride to death suggests that she feels closer to her dead family members than to the living:

(Str. 1)
Friends, countrymen, my last farewell I make;
My journey's done.
One last fond, lingering, longing look I take
At the bright sun.
For Death who puts to sleep both young and old
Hales my young life,
And beckons me to Acheron's dark fold,
An unwed wife.
No youths have sung the marriage song for me,
My bridal bed
No maids have strewn with flowers from the lea,
'Tis Death I wed.

She seems to have no problem at all leaving behind her sister Ismene and her fiancé Haemon, but talks of how swell it will be to reunite with Oedipus and her brothers in death. When Antigone takes her own life inside her tomb, it could be seen as symbolic of the fact that she's found the tragic fate she always knew awaited her.

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