English Proficiency Programme

Change of Narration: Example

Excerpts from "Antigone" by Sophocles

[Background of the play: The city-state of Thebes faces a simultaneous onslaught at all seven of its gates by a coalition of seven armies, one of which is led by Polynices, the brother of Eteocles, the king of Thebes. As it happens, after dispatching six generals with defence forces to six gates, Eteocles is forced to take the remaining part of the army and confront the enemy at the seventh gate at which the leader of the invading army happened to be Polynices! The complete attack is thwarted, but at heavy cost. Among other losses, both Eteocles and Polynices fall at the gate to the swords of each other.

They are survived by two sisters, Antigone and Ismene, and a maternal uncle, Creon, who now assumes the crown and unleashes a despotic rule. Among other decrees, he orders the burial of Eteocles with full state honours, proclaims Polynices guilty of treason and, as such, banished from Theban citizenship and orders his corpse to be left in the open with those of other foreign invaders, announcing death penalty for violation of this order. At this backdrop, the play "Antigone" starts.]

[Background of this conversation: Antigone does admit Polynices to be guilty of treason, but considers rights of citizenship inviolate under all circumstances and cannot stand his dead brother not to be given a burial. After a brief discussion on this issue with her sister, she goes alone and buries the corpse of Polynices. She is, however, spotted in the act, arrested and brought before the king, Creon.]

- Bhaskar Dasgupta