The Nurse is the only completely new character in Anouilh’s adaptation of Antigone, and she serves as a maternal force which contrasts with Antigone’s youthfulness. She appears in two scenes with Antigone near the beginning of the play, first fussing over her charge’s strange behavior before she realizes that something is not quite right. During their initial exchange of dialogue, the Nurse attempts to assert her superiority as Antigone’s caretaker through a more commanding tone. Antigone, of course, refuses to answer the Nurse’s questions directly, and this creates a kind of playful banter between them which contrasts with the tragedy about to unfold. Perhaps even more importantly, Antigone’s willingness to deceive an authority figure whom she cares about foreshadows her ability to boldly challenge Creon later in the play. The emotional moment that occurs when the Nurse discusses the promises she made to Antigone’s mother before she died implies that lying to her beloved guardian may be an even greater challenge than facing her uncle.  

The Nurse’s second appearance occurs after Antigone’s scene with Ismene, and although she remains unaware of Antigone’s transgression, she senses that something serious weighs on her charge’s conscience. Throughout their exchange, the Nurse’s maternal qualities become even more apparent as she speaks in a gentle and sympathetic manner. Showing this softer side of the Nurse works to remind the audience that, despite her noble cause and unwavering resolve, Antigone is still a young girl. The sorrowful mood that envelops the Nurse and Antigone adds to the tragic nature of Antigone’s sacrifice, especially once she looks to the Nurse for protection. Although the Nurse is powerless to truly save Antigone from the fate that will eventually befall her, her warm, reassuring presence gives her the strength to walk away from the safety of her childhood.