Anouilh's Little Antigone: Tragedy, Theatricalism, and the Romantic Self


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

The loss of a tragic sense in the theatre is a major concern of many modern dramatists and critics. In his Antigone, Jean Anouilh suggests that the reasons for this decline may be located within one of the fundamental developments of modem tragedy, that is, the replacement of action by character as the dramatic mainspring.1 He sees the predominance of character as a fundamentally romantic development which leads to the emergence of a protagonist whose self.consciousness diminishes the tragic event. Anouilh's disenchantment with romantic posturing is expressed primarily in terms of a theatricalism which implies that tragedy based solely on character is really role.playing and self.dramatization. He does not see the role as a solution to the problem of writing a modem tragedy but as a reflection of the dilemma. In Antigone, the self-conscious role is inimical to the tragic spirit.2

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