Power In Antigone

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Sophocles’ play Antigone is an Ancient Greek tragedy that is still quite popular today. It is part of a series of three plays, starting with Oedipus Rex, a man who is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. His parents try to defy their son’s fate, but everything happens just as it was prophesied. Oedipus eventually can't live with himself and goes away to the mountains to be alone for the rest of his life and leaving his sons to rule Thebes instead. Eteocles and Polyneices decide to split the throne, rotating who leads every year. After the first year, however, Eteocles refuses to give up his position of power, and the brothers kill each other in battle. Creon is now the king of Thebes, and he declares that Eteocles will be buried…show more content…
Antigone wants to bury her brother despite the punishment, but Ismene disagrees. Ismene says, “We cannot fight with men, Antigone! / The law is strong, we must give in to the law… / … but I am helpless: I must yield / to those in authority” (Prologue, 7). Ismene has a despairing tone here because her value of polis is overtaking her value of oikos when she is talking about Polyneices. It is not that she doesn't love her brother, but simply that her love for him is not strong enough to overtake her sense of being helpless against the authority. She wants to bury Polyneices but despairs that she is too much of a coward to do so. Ismene cannot bring herself to break the law for just her…show more content…
Creon decides to bring forth Ismene as well and prosecute both of the sisters. Even though Ismene is entirely innocent, she pleads guilty so that she may die alongside Antigone. Ismene says, “What do I care for life when [Antigone is] dead?” (Scene II, 31) Ismene speaks with a determined tone here—she must be able to die with Antigone, for the grief that would come after would be way too painful for Ismene. Therefore, she pleads that she was part of the crime as well because she loves her sister so much and her oikos wins. This is a sharp contrast to the scene in the prologue where she can't bring herself to bury Polyneices. Claiming to be guilty of a crime Ismene didn't commit, and in fact discouraged, is the exact opposite of polis and being a good citizen. At first, in the prologue, Ismene has a despairing tone because her polis made her believe that there was nothing to be done to help bury Polyneices. But then her tone develops, and in scene II, she has a determined tone when speaks about wanting to die with Antigone because of her oikos and strong sisterly love. Ismene’s despairing and then determined tone shows that love between two women is the strongest type of love, and while a brother and a sister can love each other, the love between two sisters is a stronger bond, as women are connected through their shared inequality and their ongoing struggle to be treated
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