Antigone

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Individual readers apply readings to and make meanings from dramatic text dependent on their own context. Antigone is a Greek tragedy written by Sophocles around the year 441 B.C. Set in the city of Thebes, the play tells the story of Antigone and Creon, two tragic heroes whose hubris became the cause of their own tragic endings. Antigone’s brothers, Polynices and Eteocles were both killed in the civil war but only Eteocles had a respectful burial whilst Polynices’ body was left to be unburied. In Antigone’s attempt to have Polynices properly buried, she broke the law decreed by Creon and was sentenced to death. My context as a contemporary audience has influenced my reading of Antigone and thus, I am able to apply a gender reading and a feminist criticism to this text. Furthermore, my personal context has also allowed me to identify the value of democracy that has been promoted by Sophocles. My understanding of the traditional gender roles in Ancient Greece has allowed me to apply a gender reading to this dramatic text. In the play, Sophocles has represented women as subservient, weak and submissive through the construction of Ismene. In contrast with Antigone, Ismene was seen as the ideal woman of that era who refused to step out of her gender role when she was asked by Antigone to assist her in Polynices’ burial. She said, “Remember we are women,/ we’re not born to contend with men. Then too, we’re underlings, ruled by much stronger hands,” Together with her refusal, she argued that as women, their roles were to submit to the decisions of men and be loyal to the state by following the law decreed by Creon, the King of Thebes. As she said her lines, Ismene’s eyes would appeared to be pleading and directed towards Antigone in ... ... middle of paper ... ...ed both communism and democracy has influenced my reading of this text where my beliefs and attitudes towards democracy as the best form of government has been further reinforced. My personal context as a contemporary reader has affected my reading of the dramatic text, Antigone. My contemporary context and understanding of Ancient Greece’s traditional gender roles have allowed me to apply both a gender reading and a feminist criticism through the construction of characters. My context of living under a communist government has made the value of democracy promoted by Sophocles to be easily recognised through certain characters in the text. Undoubtedly, my reading of this text would have not been the same if my context was to be different than it is now in which I am able to apply various readings to fully understand the meanings being communicated by Sophocles.

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