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Ismene And Haimon of Sophocles' Antigone

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Antigone Ismene And Haimon                 


Antigone, the character, is a tragic hero because we care about her. Ismene and Haimon help us care about Antigone by making her feel worthy of loving. And with out this her plan to bury her brother seems irrelevant to the reader because we can care less about her. Ismene, although weak and timid, is in the story to illustrate that Antigone is capable of being loved. "We are only women, We cannot fight with men, Antigone" (Sophocles 881). Another reason Ismene is incorporated to Antigone is to show exactly strong-willed Antigone is. Haimon is there to show that Antigone has a life and a future outside her purpose. What else Haimon brings to the story is he makes Creon look like a fool, but more importantly he validates Antigones cause. So without Antigone having to live for she would have nothing to lose, therefore, her death would not be tragic.

The prologue juxtaposes the differences in character between Antigone and Ismene. Ismene works of what is sensible, while Antigone uses more emotion. "Antigone: He is my brother. And he is your brother, too. (Talking about burying Polyneices). Ismene: But think of the danger! Think what Creon will do" (Sophocles 881). In this part of the play we really see how strong Antigone is by witnessing just how feeble Ismene is. "Another example of this is when Antigone is talking to Ismene saying she is going to bury Polyneices no matter what. Ismene replies that you can't. Antigone then says well I will until my strength gives out" (Sophocles 882). Not only is Ismene weak but it she is also a law a biding citizen. In scene two Ismene shows the viewers that she is still weak, but also that Antigone is a hero because heroes must be loved. And this is where we find that at least one person does. "But how could I go on living without her" (Sophocles 892)? Here the viewer also finds out that Ismene has good intention toward her sister, its just hard for her to show them. Likewise in the beginning of scene three Haimon will not do anything to hurt his father Creon. "I am your son, father. You are my guide. You make things clear for me, and I obey you" (Sophocles 893). This quickly changes though. Haimon now is fed up with all the bad talk about Antigone and is also in a way speaking for the people. "...I have heard them Muttering and whispering in the dark about this girl. They say no woman has ever, so unreasonably, died so shameful a death for a generous act..." (Sophocles 894). He also near the end of the scene stands up against his father's will. This is all-important because first, it shows that not everyone is against Antigone and second, shows he loves her and that a future with her is not out of the question. Antigone's death now would be even more tragic to the reader/viewer.

 All these examples of how Ismene and Haimon contribute to the impact of the play are all very necessary to show that Antigone is a hero. And because of the viewer now sees Antigone as a hero her death is now tragic. Ismene and Haimon almost make Antigone come to life. I mean that because we see that she can be loved and love the viewer now realizes that she is not just a feminist but she has a noble cause and is worth dying for.




Sophocles. "Antigone." Literature Across Cultures. 2nd ed. Eds. Sheena Gillespie, Trezinha, Carol A. Sanger. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1998. 880-908.

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