Gender Roles In Sophocles Antigone

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Sophocles’ Antigone takes place in the Ancient Greek polis Thebes in which women were expected to be entirely obedient to men. Before the start of the play, the characters Etocles and Polynices kill each other in a struggle for control of Thebes, and the new king Creon deems Polynices a traitor to the city and creates an edict banning his burial. The play begins when the sister of Polynices, Antigone, attempts to convince her sister Ismene to help her bury their brother anyway, but she refuses to break the law. Unfortunately, Antigone is caught in the act and Creon is excessively stubborn about not setting her free. Throughout Antigone, Creon is impacted by gender roles more than any other character because he wants to maintain authority and feels that he would be mortified if he lost to a female. The first reason for Creon's stubbornness towards Antigone is that he wants to establish order in Thebes by being “the man”, and Antigone is directly…show more content…
Antigone challenges the standards of women by not being submissive and meek as expected of them because she is rather devoted to familial loyalty. When Antigone attempts to convince Ismene to help her bury Polynices, she says “[Polynices] is my brother and--deny it as you will--your brother too. No one will ever convict me for a traitor” (55-7). This shows that Antigone feels that it is an obligation for her to give family members burial rites, so she is therefore only doing what is righteous. In addition, when she is later caught committing the crime, she responds to Creon’s criticism by saying “[I am] Not ashamed for a moment, not to honor my brother, my own flesh and blood” (573-4) which also shows that Antigone’s motivations were out of love for her brother, but not to take a stance regarding the status of
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