Students read Antigone, their first exposure to the genre of Greek tragedy, and explore the conflict between loyalty to family and to country that is relevant throughout time.
This short unit focuses on Sophocles' classic play Antigone, providing students with exposure to the genre of ancient Greek tragedy. The play follows the story of Antigone, a strong female protagonist who is the daughter of Oedipus and his mother, Jocasta. Short in length but dense in words and difficult syntax, it offers students a challenging two weeks. The plot and themes of the play are both accessible and relatable to modern students, as conflicts between loyalty to family and loyalty to country are relevant throughout time and across cultures.
At Match, students have a Composition class 4 days per week in addition to English class. Below, we have included Supplementary Composition Projects to reflect the material covered in our Composition course. For teachers who are interested in including these Composition projects but do not have a separate Composition course, we have included a “Suggested Placement” to note where these projects would most logically fit into the English unit. While the Composition projects may occasionally include content unrelated to English 10, most have both a skill and content connection to the work students are doing in their English 10 class.
In these parallel Composition projects, students will write one short narrative and then focus their time crafting an effective literary analysis essay in which they take a stand and defend it. Because this English unit is brief, there are only two Composition projects and the suggested writing focus areas are the same as they were in earlier units. If time allows, the teacher may certainly include other writing projects and/or writing focus areas that respond to students’ interests and/or writing development needs.
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Play: Antigone by Sophocles (Dover Publications, 1993)
This assessment accompanies Unit 4 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
In this short unit, students will focus mainly on reading and analyzing the play. Written responses will mostly be short target tasks, with the exception of the essay students will write for the end-of-unit exam. Many of the target task responses, as well as the exam essay, are focused on producing a written analysis of theme development.
Below are the writing focus areas that are recommended for the projects described in this unit. Each focus area comes from a particular row and column of our Composition Writing Rubric, and more detail about each area of focus is provided in the description of the specific writing project. The teacher should feel free to substitute or revise these writing focus areas in order to meet his/her students where they are and help them improve their writing in ways that authentically address the students’ areas for growth.
allusion, tragedy, metaphor, personification, mood, tone
frat- (fratricide) (8)
loyalty (whole play), corruption (whole play), perceive (1), proclaim (1), tidings (1), grievous (1), unsepulchred (2), dainty (2), hither (2), abhorred (3), traverse (3), unapt (3), contend (4), detest (4), aureate (5), broil (5), quarrellous (5), eddy (6), resounded (6), twain (7), oblivion (7), divine (7), fratricide (8), vilest (8), promulgated (9), usurp (9), prerogative (9), connive (9), rue (10), induce (10), furrows (13), cunning (14), impiety (15), celestial (15), hapless (15), convict (16), stout (17), knavery (17), discernment (18), reverence (20), piety (20), inveterately (23), indignant (24), anarchy (26), concession (26), discretion (27), desecrate (28), erring (28), revile (29), galled (29), sojourner (31), dowered (31), lofty (32), threshold (32), transgressed (32), infatuate (32), lament (33), lavement (33), sepulchre (33), libations (33), heinous (34), destitute (34), precipitance (34), reviled (36), defied (36)
Greek chorus, Oedipus (3), Thebes, King Creon, Tantalus (31), catacomb (33), Danae, Perseus (35), Three Fates (35)
Some knowledge of ancient Greece and Greek myths will help students access this play more fully.
Antigone pp. 1 – 4
Explain Antigone’s motivations and the character traits revealed by them.
Explain how Sophocles establishes the conflict between loyalties to family and law early on.
Antigone pp. 5 – 9
Explain the function of the chorus in a Greek tragedy, both generally and in this specific scene.
Analyze the battle between the brothers and identify the king’s opinion of it.
Antigone pp. 10 – 13
Characterize King Creon based on his reaction to the Sentinel’s news.
Antigone pp. 15 – 20
Analyze and explain how Antigone’s dialogue and behavior in this scene contribute to theme.
Antigone pp. 23 – 29
Analyze the dialogue between Haemon and Creon in order to explain how it furthers the conflict.
Hypothesize the purpose of Haemon’s character.
Antigone pp. 30 – 37
Analyze Antigone’s use of figurative language.
Interpret the purpose of the Chorus’s allusions.
Antigone pp. 37 – 41
Explain the purpose of the character of Tiresias.
Antigone pp. 42 – 47
Explain the factors that lead to Creon’s demise.
Antigone — 47-end
Articulate Sophocles’s message.
Write a journal entry from the perspective of Antigone, explaining why you wish to bury your brother’s body and why you believe that defying Creon is the only choice to be made.
An effective journal entry:
Using your knowledge of what it means to be a tragic hero, identify who you believe to be the tragic hero in Sophocles’s Antigone. Defend your selection with evidence from the play and clear criteria for what makes a character a tragic hero.
An effective essay: