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Creon Vs. Antigone Or Male Vs. Female?

1035 words - 4 pages

In Sophocles Antigone, the title character's gender has profound effects on the meaning of her actions. Creon himself says that the need to defeat her is all the more pressing because since she is a woman her rebellion upsets gender roles and hierarchy. By refusing to be passive, she overturns one of the fundamental rules of her culture. Women were subjugated and supposed to be silent spectators to the world around them as men's, such as Creon's, search for power fuels there desire to put women down to lessen the possibility of a threat. Antigone is a woman who firmly believed in humanly burying a dead body and whose actions changed the course of Thebian history. Her brothers have been slain by each other's swords in battle and Creon, the king of Thebes, has made a decree stating that one brother shall be given an honorable burial for his service to the city, while the other will be given no burial because he is considered a traitor to the city of Thebes. In Ancient Greece, if a person died and was not given a proper burial, then their spirit would not be able to pass into Hades. Because of this, Antigone is determined to give her brother a proper burial. At the same time, Creon is determined that no one will bury Polyneices and anyone who tries will be condemned to death. Creon and Antigone's conflicting points of view eventually lead to their own demise.As befits her, Antigone is a loving and loyal daughter and sister. 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 challenging this depiction. This is precisely where the conflict between the sexes rises. The denial of burial to her brother directly strikes at her family loyalty, for it was the privilege and duty of the women of the house to mourn the dead man in unrestrained sorrow and consign him to the earth. By refusing to let go of one of her womanly duties she breaks another one. This enormous sense of loyalty leads to her simultaneous violation and abidement to the duty of women at the time. She is an example that disproves the saying that a woman is the "effect" of the "cause" that is man. She independently starts her own fight. When she confronts her sister about her plan, the feminine Ismene replies: "Remember we are women, we're not born to contend with men. Then too we're underlings, ruled by much stronger hands, so we submit in this, and things still worse," (74-77). These words express her extreme fear of subordination to man. She admits to and accepts commiting wrong and suffering due to a woman's subordination to man. Unlike Ismene, Antigone does not care if anyone is willing to assist her in burying her brother, she is willing to do it on her own in spite of the consequences. In order for her to properly mourn her brother, like every sister should, Antigone was forced to boldly challenge the law...

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