The Roles Of Women In Sophocles Antigone And Ismene

1375 Words 6 Pages
Antigone explores a contrast between the behavior expected of women and the reality of their role in society. In this society man equals power. Creon expects men to be the primary actors in society and women to take a secondary, somewhat “obedient” role. Antigone challenges these beliefs as she takes action and presents intimidating challenges to the men around her, making her masculine. Antigone also proves to be more masculine than Creon. On the other hand, Ismene better fits her feminine role in society. She is a stereotypical woman, acting obedient and maintaining a subservient status within society. Thus, Antigone proves to be a more masculine character, while Ismene represents femininity. In the first scene of the play, Antigone challenges …show more content…
Instead, she challenges societal stereotypes through her actions by challenging the beliefs that women must act a certain way or follow the man’s orders. As she takes action and presents challenges by intimidating the men around her, she shows her masculinity. Ismene refuses to help Antigone with her plan to bury Polyneices and says that she’s worried for her. Antigone states, “You need not to be: you have yourself to consider, after all” (Sophocles 817). Here she impolitely snaps back at her sister, attempting to make her feel guilty for not helping her. This line embraces Antigone’s masculinity, because women were expected to be respectful and polite. Antigone asserts her power over Ismene by talking to her this way. By being rude, bossy, and mean, she mimics some of the behaviors of men when speaking to women. Antigone displays these mannerisms again when speaking to Creon. She says, “Then I beg you: kill me. This talking is a great weariness to me…I should have praise and honor for what I have done. All these men here would praise me were their lips not frozen shut with fear of you…They are with me. But they keep their tongues in leash” (Sophocles 828). Antigone is vocal and outspoken about her thoughts and opinions, something that is not a typically feminine characteristic. Antigone displays her masculinity by being speaking her mind, which, during this period was a manly …show more content…
Ismene argues that in society, she and Antigone should not challenge men 's laws, particularly as women, by burying Polyneices. Ismene 's articulation of the traditional view of gender can be seen in the following quote: “Think how much more terrible than these are own death would be if we should go against Creon and do what he has forbidden! We are only women, we cannot fight with men, Antigone! The law is strong, we must give in to the law in this thing, and in worse. I beg the Dead to forgive me, but I am helpless: I must yield to those in authority. And I think it is dangerous business to be always meddling. ” (Sophocles 816). Unlike her sister, Ismene fears death and would never go out of her comfort zone, even when it is the right thing to do. Ismene would never go against authority or do anything that she is not supposed to do. She is afraid of the consequences she may face for breaking the law or speaking up for what is right and just. Women are often portrayed as being obedient to authority, always behaving in the “proper” manner and being on their best behavior. Ismene’s behavior is compliant with how a traditional woman is supposed to behave. Ismene’s belief that women are not supposed to argue with a man’s decision asserts her view that men are superior to women. Nevertheless, Antigone does not

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