Significance of the Women in Sophocles' Antigone

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Significance of the Women in Antigone Michael J. O’Brien in the Introduction to Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, maintains that there is “a good deal of evidence to support this view” that the fifth century playwright was the “educator of his people” and a “teacher” (4). Sophocles in his tragedy Antigone teaches about “morally desirable attitudes and behavior,” (4) and uses a woman as heroine and another woman in a supporting role to do most of the instructing of the audience in this regard. This essay will explore the role of women in the drama, the attitude toward women therein, the involvement of women in plot development, and other aspects of women in Antigone. In the essay, “Sophocles’ Invention of the Third Actor Widened the Scope of Drama,” H.D.F. Kitto describes the new type of atmosphere which the Prologue brings to Antigone because of the two women characters who open the drama: “. . . so here the private, personal and feminine atmosphere contrasts sharply with the full light of publicity in which the action is played out. It is an admirable preparation for the jubilant hymn of triumph that follows it” (66).The women in Sophocles’ Antigone give more than an atmosphere to the drama; they influence it in many more significant ways. Robert D. Murray Jr. in “Sophocles Moral Themes” says that “to the contemporaries of Sophocles, a poet was expected to express a view of life, even a “message.” Had he not done so, he would have failed his audiences. Had they thought he had not done so, he would not have won prizes in the Theatre of Dionysius” (43). In Antigone the reader finds a heroine, rather than a hero, expressing the message of the tragedy – through her stubborn a... ... middle of paper ... ... J. O’Brien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968. Segal, Charles Paul. “Sophocles’ Praise of Man and the Conflicts of the Antigone.” In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966. Sophocles. Antigone. Translated by R. C. Jebb. The Internet Classic Archive. no pag. http://classics.mit.edu/Sophocles/antigone.html “Sophocles” In Literature of the Western World, edited by Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. NewYork: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1984. Woodard, Thomas. Introduction. In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966. Watling, E. F.. Introduction. In Sophocles: The Theban Plays, translated by E. F. Watling. New York: Penguin Books, 1974.

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