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Feminism in Sophocles' Antigone and Shakespeare's Othello

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Feminism in Antigone and Othello    

     Feminism has been one of the most important forces in shaping our modern-day society. Thanks to the women's rights movement, females today enjoy rights and freedoms that are unprecedented in the history of Western civilization. However, it was not always this way. Whereas modern literature that contains feminist messages barely gets a second thought, readers in our time are intrigued and impressed by feminist works coming from a decidedly male-biased past. Two of the greatest works of Western literature, Antigone and Othello, written by the two great dramatists Sophocles and Shakespeare, have been said to illustrate feminist ideals in the "distant" past. Antigone, which embodies these ideals throughout and is primarily concerned with the inequity of gender roles, is such a play. Othello, while it contains occasional feminist sentiment, still keeps its women in conventional female roles and thus is not a feminist work.

In order to determine if these plays are feminist, we first require a working definition of the term. This alone i...

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...from her name. Finally, Sophocles shows us that feminism works, at least in Antigone's case: she gets what she wants. Unfortunately, this happens to be death, but her attempts at power still get her what she desires.


Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. Othello. Ed. Barbara A. Mowat, Paul Werstine. New York: Washington Square Press, 1993.

Sophocles. Antigone. The Theban Plays. Ed. and trans. E. F. Watling. London: Penguin Group, 1947: 126-162.

Watling, E. F. "Introduction." The Theban Plays. London: Penguin Group, 1947: 7-22.

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