In Antigone, there was two brothers who shared being the King and one of the brothers, Polynices, wanted to start a war with the kingdom because he wanted to be the main ruler. Polynices and his brother Eteocles fight and they both end up killing each other. Their Uncle Creon, who takes position as King when they are both killed, decides that only Eteocles will have a proper burial and Polynices will be left to rot. Antigone, Polynices and Eteocles sister, thinks that Creon’s decision is unfair and takes upon herself to give Polynices a proper burial. When their other sister Ismene finds out, she is stuck between helping her sister bury their brother and following Creon’s demands. Ismene is very different from her sister Antigone. Antigone
In the Greek tragic drama, Antigone, by Sophocles Ismene is a foil of her sister. There are many characteristics that exhibit this, such as, Ismene’s lack of courage, how she chooses to follow civil laws over the laws of the gods, and finally, how Ismene cannot stand up for herself. There are many instances in the play where these traits are are exhibited. One way that Ismene is a foil of Antigone is because she lacks courage.
Asking for her sister 's help, she hopes to obtain reliability, only to find her too intimidated by Creon, Their uncle, and king. Accordingly, she says to Ismene “You may do as you like since apparently the laws of the gods mean nothing to you” (Page 192 Sophocles Antigone).This sentence uses two rhetorical appeals. First, Antigone 's most manipulated appeal, pathos is demonstrated specifically when she says “ you may do as you like..” (Page 192 Sophocles Antigone).These words make it seem like Ismene is selfish in preserving herself, unlike Antigone 's decision to do the opposite. Antigone uses comparison to herself to make Ismene appear weak and self-serving in return.
The famous feminist, Gloria Steinem, once said,”Women are not going to be equal outside the home until men are equal in it.” This central idea of equality is relevant to the story Antigone by Sophocles. Considering the circumstances of the story, the minor character, Ismene, is conflicted with standing by the beliefs that men are overall rulers and powerful over women. Ismene’s emotions and mood fluctuates through the story in a horrible manner. To tragedy unto despair is a major theme in Sophocles most famous tragedy, Antigone.
Antigone uses both logical and emotional appeals to persuade her sister Ismene that their brother Polyneices should be honored and have a proper burial. During an argument between Antigone and Ismene, Ismene believes that the law should be obeyed therefore she will not help Antigone. Antigone states, “Polyneices, who fought as bravely and died as miserably…no one shall bury him, no one mourn for him… his body must lie in the fields (Sophocles et al.190).” Antigone is trying to communicate to Ismene through the use of an emotional and logical appeal by explaining that he was, left to be decomposed by the birds. In the Greek culture, having a burial is a civic and religious duty which is necessary to proceed to the afterlife unaffected.
Sophocles’ Antigone, is a classic Athenian Greek play that discusses questions about the importance of following the law when one does not agree with it, and whether divine laws or man-made laws have more importance in society. While these themes are worth exploring, another interesting aspect of the play is the cruel treatment and punishment of the title character, Antigone, by her uncle and future father-in-law Creon, the king of Thebes. Creon’s harsh punishment, a parallel to the treatment of women in Greek society, can be seen in many of the dialogues of the play. Antigone is determined to provide proper burial for dead brother, Polynices, against the orders of the king, and goes to her sister Ismene for help. However, Ismene is distraught at the idea of defying the king (104).
(_Antigone). Even when compared with the dishonorable deaths of her family members, Ismene believes that going against the will of a monarch is worse. Ismene is the polar opposite of Antigone, she is complacent and law abiding where Antigone defies the law in accordance with her own values. This has taught her that she and Antigone are “weak women, [...], Not framed by nature to contend with men” (_Antigone). As the case of Ismene shows, faith in law, and the following the societal expectations, creates someone who is largely complacent.
Antigone’s actions are motivated by her allegiance to her family, moral conscience, and religion amid Creon’s political injustice and tyranny. Antigone’s actions motivate her to demand Ismene to prove whether she is “a true sister or a traitor to your family” (26-27). Antigone maintains loyalty to her brother despite his actions which threatened Thebes. Her inability to bear the thought of her brother’s corpse being picked apart by animals and not being honored with proper funeral rites forces her to act. Antigone’s fierce allegiance to her family is laid bare as she is willing to sacrifice her life to honor her brother and defy the law in an act that she believes is morally just.
In Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Antigone, a woman’s individual conscience trumps state law when Antigone displays time and again that she values her divine motives higher than those of the state throughout the tragedy. Her continued defiance of the state’s authority marks the importance of her individuality through various scenes in Antigone. Knowing full well her role as a woman in a patriarchal society, Antigone goes beyond the powers of the common man to carry on morals of herself and family exceeding beyond immortality and death. Engulfed in the menacing misogyny King Creon set forth in the state, Antigone is determined to thrive and keep the sacred deeds of herself and family in tact despite the fate it bears. The character of Antigone exhibits
“How could I live on alone, without my sister.” (Sophocles, page 32) She tries to take credit for the burial with Antigone. Ismene is distraught when Antigone rejects her and so she tries to appeal to Creon, asking him how he could kill his son’s bride-to-be. When Creon brushes off her pleas, he sentences her to be sent to the dungeons with Antigone.
According to Antigone, her brother Polyneices deserves equal treatment and burial just like Eteocles had. Antigone is openly honest when she says, “ Ismene, I am going to bury him” (Sophocles 191). Antigone has disregarded Creon’s rules and thinks the law is merely a suggestion. Antigone, however, is aware that crossing Creon will possibly ruin her reputation or get her killed, yet she is determined to carry out her plan.
Then comes Antigone, the girl who thinks she has the right to act against the law. This poses a moral dilemma for Creon, as Antigone is his niece, the last of the descendants of Oedipus. However, Antigone makes the decision easier by explicitly taking pride in her actions and slighting his uncle. Her justification is merely that Creon’s law is not the mandate of her God, and that the burial of a family is more imperative than all else (500-523). When confronted by Creon with Polynices’ treacherous crime, she cannot put up any defense.
The search for justice is never ending. Justice may be delayed, denied, or postponed, however, the search is timeless. To be just is to argue for fair rights for all. It is to be someone that will help the people of the community. However, many times justice is not sought and not given to those who need it most. In the play Antigone by Sophocles, he demonstrates the many ways an unjust leader can overpower those who fight for what is right (Adams 1). In Antigone’s case, she fought for the just treatment of her brother in his afterlife and for giving him a proper burial. In her fight for justice, Antigone exhibits strong beliefs of fairness to her community regarding family, rights and morality in her battle against a seemingly unjust leader, Kreon.
The gripping play of Antigone written by Sophocles reveals a massive tragedy which is caused by the main character Antigone. This play reflects how Creon who is a prideful and arrogant man deals with Antigone who does not abide by his rules. The play of Antigone presents different ways selfishness and overconfidence along with extreme pride can cause unrepentable mistakes. “No woman, while I live, shall order me.” (Sophocles pg 29) articulates Creon as Antigone forces him to terminate her for her rebellious deed of burying her brother Polyneices although Creon voiced not to do so.