Matriarchial vs. Patriarchial Values in Antigone

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Matriarchial vs. Patriarchial Values in Antigone

In Sophocles’s Antigone, Antigone and Creon represent opposing sets of values. Antigone stands for the matriarchal beliefs while Creon stands for the patriarchal beliefs. Antigone’s beliefs are founded upon the sanctity of kinship and the ritual association with the gods of the earth. She places these values of universal humanity above the laws of man and loyalty to the state. Creon, on the other hand, stands for the loyalty to the city and its laws over the loyalty to kinship. He associates loyalty to the state with the unquestioning obedience to the king. Also, he is skeptical of the gods to the point of impiety.

In the earlier scenes of the play, Antigone’s reverence to family and the sacred ties of kinship are evident. Antigone’s two brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, kill each other in battle. Creon, the king, decrees that Polynices is traitorous and therefore must not be buried or mourned. Antigone believes in loyalty to family over loyalty to the state. This loyalty is seen in the first scene when Antigone asks her sister, Ismene, to help her bury Polynices. Antigone says, “I’ll bury him myself. And even if I dies in the act, the death will be a glory” (1269). She views her defilement of the decree as glorifying. Antigone is aware that the penalty for her defilement is death and she is willing to die for her convictions. When Antigone is caught burying her brother, she is taken to Creon. When Creon confronts her and inquires why she breaks the law, she responds, “that to die is precious little pain. But if I had allowed my own mother’s son to rot, an unburied corpse—that would have been an agony” (1279). Antigone’s devotion to her kin is more important ...

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...ud and been loyal to his kin and the gods, he could be celebrating his son’s wedding instead of mourning the deaths of his wife and son. Antigone’s pride is how she displays her loyalty to her brother and the gods this is the reason for her demise. She is so proud in her beliefs that she is willing to die for them, and she does. Her lack of humility when confronting Creon leads to her tragic end. If Antigone had been humble and not so strong willed when confronted by Creon she would still be alive and could be celebrating her wedding to the king’s son. If Creon and Antigone had not been so proud and stubborn with their beliefs, they may have had the opportunity to strike a compromise and not have gone to their tragic demises.


Meyer, Michael. The Bedford Introduction To Literature. 5th Ed. Bedford/St. Martin. New York, 1999.
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