Roles of Women in the Greek Tragedy Antigone
Despite the male dominant society of Ancient Greece, the women in Sophocles’ play Antigone all express capabilities of powerful influence and each individually possess unique characteristics, showing both similarities and contrasts. The women in the play are a pivotal aspect that keeps the plot moving and ultimately leads to the catharsis of this tragedy. Beginning from the argument between Antigone and Ismene to Eurydice’s suicide, a male takes his own life and another loses everything he had all as a result of the acts these women part take in. The women all put their own family members above all else, but the way they go about showing that cherishment separates them amongst many other things.
In one of the opening scenes, the fluctuating emotions of the heated dialogue between Ismene and Antigone takes place. The two sisters take turns evoking passion and subjectiveness on their role as people in this world, but more specifically as civilians of Greece. Antigone has the mentality that she owes her duty of being an obedient family member (Johnson 370). Likewise, Ismene fears for her sister’s life and tries to persuade her that her allegiance may lay too strongly in the wrong place. Both women ultimately value family, however, they are split between whom they are most considerate to and immediately cause the audience to take sides.
Antigone, the protagonist of the play, has what is seemingly the most powerful female role. From the very beginning of the plot she foreshadows her demise but expresses it through her stubbornness and inability to realize the great power of man. It is possible that she was aware of Creon’s capabilities as a leader, but nonetheless, she fights back by going to give her brother, Polyneices, the proper burial. This bold act ultimately leads to her punishment, in which she takes matters into her own hands and kills herself.
Ismene, Antigone’s sister, plays a very critical role that is undaring but wise considering what eventually happens to the other female characters. Ismene symbolizes the alternate route that could have been taken had Antigone understood the danger she was putting herself in when she decided to bury her brother. Ismene is strong willed to say the least because even after her brothers have both died, she doesn’t let her reckless emotions lead her to trouble and control her desires and anger. Her conservative manner, which is neither too radical like Antigone or too traditional like Eurydice, can be held accountable for her survival.
Antigone and her sister, Ismene, both come from a humiliating background full of shame and ill-fate. After the infamous story of their father’s prophecy of murdering his father and sleeping with his mother coming true, the misfortunes continue as their two brothers kill one another in battle. It was in their hand to at least try to stay out of harms way and put themselves in a situation that could have dire consequences given that...