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Sophocles’ Oedipus Cycle – Antigone, as a Feminist Essay

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Sophocles’ Oedipus Cycle – Antigone, as a Feminist


Throughout history, women have always stood in the shadows of men. In many cultures, the role of women has always been to be seen and not heard. As one of the first feminists in world literature, the character Antigone, of Sophocles’ Oedipus Cycle, displays fine characteristics of a great female leader in order to stand up against male dominance for her religious, political, and personal beliefs. When the king denies her brother, Polynices, proper burial, Antigone goes against state law by burying him herself in order to protect heavenly decree and maintain justice. In doing this, she steps out of her place as a woman in a male dominated society.

In order to characterize Antigone as a feminist, it is important to study Antigone’s early childhood, which displays the origins of the characteristics found in her that make her a feminist. In Oedipus of Colonus, Sophocles illustrates these qualities that Antigone possesses. During the first twenty years of her life, Antigone spends her time secluded from society with her blind, exiled father, Oedipus. Sophocles sums up her childhood in the following soliloquy by Oedipus:

"Since her childhood ended and her body gained its power, has wandered ever with me, an old man’s governess; often in the wild forest without shoes, and hungry, beaten by many rains tired by the sun; yet she rejected the sweet life of home so that her father should have sustenance" (Fitts 104). Because she is secluded, Antigone never has to take her place in society as a woman. Without a female role model to show her how a woman is supposed to act, there is no one to raise her as a woman. She spends her days taking care of her blind father and leading him. Sh...


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...Creon, when she kills herself causing Creon to lose. Creon at this point has caved in by deciding to bury Polynices and free Antigone, but it is too late. She dies an honorable death for future feminists.

Since Sophocles wrote Antigone, there have been thousands of literary works about feminists and their movement to let their voices be heard over men. Through her strong will and bravery, Antigone made her political, religious, and personal beliefs seen. She died in order to win against men even when no one else would stand up to male dominance. For these reasons, Antigone is a prime example of a great feminist in world literature.

Works Cited

Fitts, Dudley and Robert Fitzgerald. The Oedipus Cycle. Trans. Sophocles. Florida: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1977.

Sophocles. “Antigone.” Literature and the Writing Process 5th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 1999.


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