Antigone Essay, Research Paper
Antigone herself represents the highest ideals of human life — courage and respect for the gods.
In the mythical story “Antigone”, Antigone first demonstrates feminist logic when she chooses to challenge a powerful male establishment. This establishment is personified by her uncle Creon, who is newly crowned as the King of Thebes, and it is usually challenged by whole city-state. She believed that the law of the gods (to give proper burial rights to every dead body) was more important than the law of the King. Creon became angry that a woman questioned his sovereignty and commanded her to death even though she was the daughter of Jocasta, his sister.
The bold, tradition-braking character of Antigone clearly clashed with the overpowered, male dominant personality of Creon. This collision of character gave rise to the conflict between the sexes in Sophocles’ “Antigone.” The denial of burial to Polynices strikes directly at her family loyalty. This enormous sense of loyalty leads to her simultaneous violation and abidement to the duty of women at the time. It is precisely this loyalty that makes her an active rather than a static figure. Throughout the play, Antigone amazingly retains the traditional role of women, while at the same time boldly challenges this depiction. The challenge occurs as both a defiance of Creon’s laws in Antigone’s burying Polynices and as a direct verbal assault on Creon himself.
Creon made many convictions insulting womenkind. His convictions seemed true a large population of men. He uses her to set an example for the entire city of Thebes, for Antigone is the first person to ever deliberately disobey Creon’s order not the bury her late brother, who has been declared a traitor of the city. “Imagine it: I caught her naked rebellion, the traitor, the only one in the whole city. I’m not about to prove myself a liar, not to my people, no, I’m going to kill her!”( ). Creon believes that if he does not follow through on his word the people of Thebes will not respect his authority as king. In determination to gain respect from the people from Thebes, Creon decides to take Antigone’s life, which ironically leads to his demise. Creon refuses to compromise or humble himself before others especially women, he states “better if it must happen, that a / should overset me” ( ). He stubbornly refuses other characters the right to express opinions different from his own. Creon abuses his power to force others to accept his point of view. This extreme male dominance conflicts head-on with Antigone’s bold unwomanly challenge to Creon’s authority. Antigone does not give Creon additional respect either because he is a man in a patriarchal society or because he is king. In such way, she argues an equality of the sexes, as well as equality under God.
Unlike her sister, Ismene refuses to challenge the male authority, even if it means to not fulfill her duties as a sister. Ismene states: “we must remember that we are two women / so not to fight with men. / And that since we are subject to strong power / we must hear these orders, or any that may be worse” ( ). These words stated by Ismene, express her extreme fear for and subordination to man. Her view of the inferiority to men came from the many laws restricting the lives of women. When speaking to his son, Haemon, about his fiancee?s act, Creon strongly emphasizes the important relationship and obligation of a man to his father rather than to his wife. Moreover, he emphasizes the importance of males in a household, ?it is for this men pray they beget / households of dutiful sons? ( ). Haemon’s defiance to his father lead Creon to proclaim him a “woman’s slave,” a man who is unfortunately sided with a woman. According to Creon, this act was close to committing a sin. Had Antigone been born the son of Oedipus, rather than his daughter, it would not be his place to decide, as his crown would rest upon Antigone’s head. And even if Creon were king, and Antigone a male, her opinion on the matter of Polynices’ burial would likely have been taken more into his consideration. Antigone’s gender made her situation even more difficult than it already was, which is unfair as she had no choice or say in her sex.
In conclusion, Antigone in Sopocles’s Antigone demonstrates feminist thoughts in several ways. She first challenges a powerful male establishment. She may do so for one of three reasons: to commit suicide gracefully, to spite Creon, or to be divine. Antigone demonstrates feminist thought when she shows her strong will of defying a tyrant. That Antigone did not run from her death sentence suggest an inherent braveness to Antigone which the chorus recognizes before her departure to her death. The notion that a person has no say in the affairs of her loved ones simply because she is a female strikes at my bias, and evokes hatred for Antigone’s oppressor. Antigone was an early feminist ralling against the notion that women were not people within Greek society, were to be seen and not heard. Antigone earns my admiration and respect for fighting against these views.