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.

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New Units For 9th and 10th Grade English

Unit Summary

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.

Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

  • Play: Antigone by Sophocles (Dover Publications, 1993)  

Supporting Materials


This assessment accompanies Unit 4 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep


  • Read and annotate Sophocles’s play Antigone.
  • Read and annotate this unit plan. 
  • Decide which Greek myth allusions your students will need to be familiar with to get the most out of the unit. Reread those myths in preparation. 
  • Take the unit assessment.

Essential Questions


  • Loyalty: To which do we owe our ultimate loyalty—our family or our laws?
  • Power: How does power corrupt?

Writing Focus Areas


English Lessons Writing Focus Areas

  • Clear and relevant thesis
  • Embedded/layered evidence
  • Explanations

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.

Composition Projects Writing Focus Areas

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.

  • Focus on Task: appropriate for task, purpose, and audience 
  • Diction: Includes precise language and vocabulary
  • Thesis: Includes a clear, relevant, and unique thesis statement
  • Analysis: Demonstrates clear and logical reasoning
  • Evidence: Draws relevant evidence to support position
  • Professional Revised: Adequate revisions



Literary Terms

allusion, tragedy, metaphor, personification, mood, tone

Roots and Affixes

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)

Idioms and Cultural References

Greek chorus, Oedipus (3), Thebes, King Creon, Tantalus (31), catacomb (33), Danae, Perseus (35), Three Fates (35)

Content Knowledge and Connections


Some knowledge of ancient Greece and Greek myths will help students access this play more fully.

Previous Fishtank ELA Connections

Future Fishtank ELA Connections

Lesson Map


  • Antigone pp. 10 – 13

Characterize King Creon based on his reaction to the Sentinel’s news.


  • 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.



Composition Projects

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.9-10.3 — Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

  • L.9-10.4 — Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9—10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

  • L.9-10.6 — Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.9-10.1 — Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

  • RL.9-10.2 — Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • RL.9-10.3 — Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

  • RL.9-10.9 — Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.9-10.1 — Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9—10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Writing Standards
  • W.9-10.1 — Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

  • W.9-10.10 — Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

  • W.9-10.1.a — Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

  • W.9-10.1.b — Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience's knowledge level and concerns.

  • W.9-10.3 — Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

  • W.9-10.3.a — Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.

  • W.9-10.4 — Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

  • W.9-10.5 — Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.

  • W.9-10.6 — Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology's capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

  • W.9-10.9 — Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

  • W.9-10.9.a — Apply grades 9—10 Reading standards to literature (e.g., "Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work [e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare]").

  • W.9-10.9.b — Apply grades 9—10 Reading standards to literary nonfiction (e.g., "Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning").