womenoed Essay on Sophocles' Antigone - Sisters


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Sisters

 Two sisters destined to love each other, but conflict interrupts their paths. The first's journey is one of self-exploration and discovery; the other's of continual oppression and hardships. Ismene and Antigone are the troubled sisters whose decisions take them on different courses, but these same choices also brought them together. Even though their actions show differently, Antigone and Ismene's morals and philosophies show that they are true sisters at heart.

 

Antigone shows the attribute of boldness. She is constantly going her own direction. She is a leader, not a follower. "Ismene: What? You'd bury him when a law forbids the city? Antigone: Yes! He is my brother and- deny it as you will- your brother too."(61). This is where Antigone's boldness begins to surface. She is expressing her disagreement with King Creon's law. This is extremely daring of her to do because she is defying the law of the land. On the other hand, Ismene displays the quality of being a coward. She says, "Remember, we are women, we're not born to contend with men."(62). On the contrary to what Ismene's brain tells her to do, her heart is screaming to go and bury her brother, and defy Creon's dishonorable law. It is not until the middle to end of the play that Ismene's true self emerges and she agrees with Antigone. This is just one of the ways Antigone and Ismene are the same at heart, but take different paths to get to their real inner person.

 

Another outstanding attribute of Antigone is her cleverness. "Antigone: Dear god, shout it from the rooftops. I'll hate you all the more for silence- tell the world."(64). This is in response to Ismene's promise to keep Antigone's burying of her brother a secret. Antigone's cleverness appears here because she found a way to publicly defy Creon and tell others how unjust he really is. Likewise, Ismene is intelligent and comes quick to understanding. In reply to Antigone's above statement she says, "Then go if you must, but rest assured, wild, irrational as you are, my sister, you are truly dear to the ones who love you."(64). Even though Ismene at this moment disagrees with her sister's action, she wittily understood Antigone's notion to want to collectively show her defiance of Creon. These to personalities of Antigone and Ismene also show their similarities in their philosophies.

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Antigone and Ismene are both loyal in their own ways. Antigone is loyal to her brother and Ismene. Ismene is loyal to Creon first, but then her brother and Antigone too. Antigone gives her brother a proper burial and is not afraid of the consequences as long as she does the honorable thing. " Sentry: She's the one, she did it single-handed- we caught her burying the body."(78). Antigone is so devoted to her brother that she reburied him after the guards uncovered him the first time. Ismene is loyal because she comes to her sister's side and says she also buried her body, wanting to die honorably along with Antigone. "I did it, yes- if only she consents- I share the guilt, the consequences too."(86) This surprised Antigone and Ismene as well. Both were shocked at how they arrived at the same conclusions from different points of view. This is yet another way of how Antigone and Ismene show the same qualities in their own ways.

 

Both Antigone and Ismene have the same basic ideas about life, but their views are expressed at different times. Also, some of Ismene's ideas were derived from Antigone's persuasive speaking. Deep down inside, Antigone and Ismene are the same people: personality, philosophy, and way of life is all the same. This is how they both ended up at the same crossroads, where their lives as sisters began, even though they both were not alive.

 


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