In Ancient Greece, there was a social hierarchy onto which everyone fell in one category or another. There were the free and the enslaved, the Greeks and the foreigners, the rich and the poor. Gender was an important aspect in this hierarchical society in which Sophocles’ Antigone (Sophocles) takes place. The men had their roles as the leaders of society, participating in politics, law, and the military. Women, on the other hand, were expected to tend to the home or farm (“Gender in the Ancient World”). This was the traditional view throughout Ancient Greece, though as with all societal standards, there were those who opposed these limitations given to women. In Antigone, there are those characters who prefer
As we are all aware that for generations, gender difference and power have been an issue for centuries. That being said the play Antigone by Sophocles, displays many examples of these struggles. The main topics that will be discussed, are: Antigone’s background history in Oedipus the King, the conflict between Creon the king of Thebes and Antigone, the gender difference and power.
Antigone, a complex character indeed-- many have described her as fiercely brave, tragic heroine, or even, a model of strength for women. Although the events of Antigone do lend easily to these characterizations of Antigone, it is also apparently clear that she possessed self-interested motives behind the burial of her brother, Polynices. She sought glory and honor for her actions, rather than having mere satisfaction from the actions themselves. Throughout the play, Antigone displays a sense of hubris regarding her brave and heroic sacrifice for her brother—the hubris is exacerbated with the repetitive diction, especially the words ‘glory’ and ‘honor’ and Antigone’s constant desperation for the world to know about what she has done.
Sophocles adroitly rendered the gender conflict between Creon and Antigone in his renowned play Antigone, as the two characters rigidly defend their beliefs on burying Polynices, the traitor of Thebes and Antigone’s brother. His disdain for women emerges in various passages of the play, as Creon learns that Antigone attempted to bury Polynices against his orders and, as his son Haemon opposes his decision to lock Antigone in a tomb for her disobedience. The gender discrimination in Antigone illustrates Athenian society’s view of women as inferior to men, a threat to man’s pride, and sexual object with little significance. Moreover, Sophocles could be suggesting a subliminal message that women are capable of devise logical and rational decisions during times of conflicts.
When Antigone and Ismene exchange thoughts on their beloved brother Polyneices, Antigone retorts, “Let me alone/ and my folly with me, to endure this terror./ No suffering of mine will be enough/ to make me die ignobly” (Ant. 111-114). Here, Ismene’s loyalty to the laws represents society's negative influences on an individual's choices. With Antigone wanting to bury her brother, it leaves her alienated because she lives in a society that values conformity. Consequences of excessive power and authority from a community over a person shows that not only does it lead to conflict, but it also leads to the loss of their own life. As Antigone is questioned by Creon about her act of burying her brother, she responds, “So my words, too, naturally offend you./ Yet how could I win a greater share of glory/ than putting my own brother in his grave” (Ant. 546-548). Antigone’s impactful words towards Creon’s exhibit her strong will power to stand up for what she believes in. With society’s unfavorable depiction on a woman’s power, Antigone breaks the law and tests Creon’s authority through the illegal burying of her late brother. Her behavior symbolizes that society cannot accept the views of others and their individuality. Her actions eventually lead her to isolate herself and take her own life. Antigone supports the idea that when society confronts an individual, the
Creon throughout the whole play shows a discrimination toward women, in the end he ends up undergoing a terrible downfall. In the play, Antigone is the protagonist who most of the sexism is appointed toward. Creon shows a lot of feminism toward Antigone not only because of her criminal action but also that the fact that she is a female. Creon goes on to send Antigone to a cell deep in the middle of the woods because she went against his law. The fact that she was a female and went against a man’s power makes it seem worse than it actually has to be, all she did was pay her respect to her brother because no one would. Him putting Antigone to death because she went against his power clearly shows his feminism towards women. This also shows that all males had full power over society, economy, and women, which isn’t fair. Antigone displays her feminist qualities when she goes against the most powerful male, the king Creon. Her going against him shows her disrespect for Creon, her doing this and speaking like a male figure shows her push for equality between the sexes. Antigone throughout the whole play pushed for equality but she never seemed to get what she wants. In the end her push for equality’s of gender, causes her to be sent to death by the male figure she
After catching Antigone, he declares, “Listen, if she’s not punished for taking the upper hand, / Then I am not a man. She would be a man!” (pg. 20). It is evident that Creon believes women should be punished for not staying in their place. Additionally, he states, “As long as I live, I will not be ruled by a woman” (pg. 22). As a man, he feels threatened by a woman who has the courage to disobey him. Even though he holds great power, Antigone is not afraid to challenge and stand up to him. After getting caught, she says, “No man could frighten me into taking on / The gods’ penalty for breaking such a law” (pg. 19). By standing up for herself in a male-dominated society, Antigone exemplifies a strong women not afraid to challenge the status
Such as a tragic heroine, Antigone seemingly receives support from the gods, “Throughout the play there are signs in the natural world that the gods are on the side of Antigone… there are no footprints left beside the body when Antigone first puts dust on Polyneices. It's as if the earth itself is attempting to aid Antigone in her "crime”. We also see divine support for Antigone, when the storm rages outside of Thebes” (Shmoop). Antigone also tries to control her own fate, even though she knows that her family is doomed suffer, as exemplified by her father Oedipus. She tries to control what she can, for example, instead of letting her sister join her in the execution, Antigone declines her and sends her off. Antigone’s most important trait is also the fatal flaw that leads to her own demise. Antigone is so loyal ad determined to bury her brother that she would go against the word of the king to do so. It is because of this determination that she antagonizes Creon into sentencing her to death. Sophocles not only portrays Antigone as a tragic hero, but also as a martyr. She believes in something so much that she is willing to go against the law, and in turn die for it. She believes that even though her brothers fought in each of the leading sides of Thebes’ civil war, it should not matter as they are both part of her and Creon’s family. Antigone “sacrifices her own life in the name of it. Her determination is so strong that her character becomes symbolic of family loyalty or blood ties” (Shmoop). Although she is not trying to teach a lesson per se, she does make an impact on those around her. Her fiancé and his mother both follow suit in Antigone’s suicide, leaving Creon alone in the end to reflect on his actions and their consequences. Antigone’s actions are not the only things that link her to her heroic archetypical role, her motivations for
Gender roles play a significant part through ought the play Antigone due to the fact that men are treated on a higher scale than women. Sophocles portrays women as people with no rights nor freedom. Antigone is on a destiny for burial rights of her brother Polyneicis. Gender roles are expressed throughout the play Antigone by disrespecting women and men having power and freedom.
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 defies King Creon’s law and buries her brother as a way to help his soul find peace, while invoking divine law as a defense for her actions. A soldier catches Antigone in the act, but she does not attempt an escape or deny what she is doing. Instead, she simply accepts her punishment. Consequently, she is condemned to die. On another note, Antigone being female is a large factor in the story. Just as in King’s time where African-Americans struggle with gaining any say or power just because of the color of their skin, Antigone and other women in their own time battle social customs that assume women are the weaker gender compared to men. These men hold all the political offices, and therefore create the laws. Despite being a member of a royal family, Antigone has no real power over
n Sophocles’ play “Antigone”; written in 441 B.C., Antigone is a woman of impact, and her choices as a upstander affect the other characters. She was righteous in her pursuits to restore justice with her choices, that are taken because of Kreon unjust ruling. The first move was his, when she lawed the burial of Polyneices, whom is unhonored for being soldier of the enemy. Her choice to secretly bury him affected not only her life, but also Kreon and his family. She impacted her own life with her choice also to kill herself, and the lives of others.
But Antigone did so anyways knowing the consequences were going to be brutal. This is significant because the sacrificial death of Antigone, who challenged a male counterpart is basically inevitable. This play challenged the beliefs of women during that day and age, giving them the power to criticize and proceed against an opposing male force.
This also leads to a sort of uprising in Thebes as for the first time the masses were mourning Antigone’s death sentence supporting a woman which marked a turnaround in the society. As such acts were never accepted by the society at that time. In fact the woman was seen as the culprit by the entire society. Another element of ancient Greek society that is highlighted was to accept your destined fate. When Ismene says poor sister ,if this is how things are what can I do to prevent or change it. what Antigone puts forward is we should stand up for justice and not get supressed by an external force. This is precisely what she does, which ultimately claims her
Sophocles play “Antigone” introduces a lot of debatable topics such as Human law vs Divine laws, pride, but most importantly the topic of woman’s movement for empowerment. Long before 442 B.C.E, women were belittled because of their gender however, after the birth of “Antigone” it demonstrated a strong outreach towards women and their roles in society ”Antigone, a woman who defines King Creon’s edict without any fear, doubts, or regrets. This courageous woman, the fruit of incest, has fascinated philosophers in the nineteenth century, inspired playwrights in the twentieth century, and intrigued feminist thinkers and activists for decades” (Söderbäck). Birth from a respected bloodline, Antigone doesn’t feel respected at all within her town, especially from her uncle Creon who became entitled as the King after Antigone’s blood