Antigone Short Sample Answers
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Discuss the role of the sentry in Antigone. How does this minor character affect our impressions of major characters, or of the play’s central conflict?
The sentry in Antigone is a messenger who clearly has no desire to tell his tale. The entire seventeen lines of the sentry’s opening speech, in which he must report Polynices’ burial to Creon, are devoted to trying not to speak. His fearful halting demonstrates that Creon is powerful and dangerous, ready to exercise his power on the most helpless—and pointless—of victims. Creon, of course, blames the sentry for burying Polynices, and the sentry complains about the dangers of rulers who judge poorly. The sentry is free to say such things at this point, because he has nothing to lose. His forthrightness offsets the ugly cruelty of Creon’s power and makes Creon seem like a petty dictator rather than a moral force to be reckoned with.
The sentry is lucky, for shortly after vowing never to return to Creon or Thebes, he enters triumphantly with Antigone, who has been caught in the act of reburying her brother’s body. Although he continues to be a comical character, with his second entrance the sentry becomes less sympathetic. He boasts ...