Portrayal of Women in Antigone
Although ancient Greece was a male-dominate society, Sophocles' work Antigone, portrays women as being strong and capable of making wise decisions. In this famous tragedy, Sophocles uses the characters Ismene and Antigone to show the different characteristics and roles that woman are typical of interpreting. Traditionally women are characterized as weak and subordinate and Ismene is portrayed in this way. Through the character of Antigone, women finally get to present realistic viewpoints about their character.
The sexist stereotypes presented in this tragedy address many perspectives of men at this time. Creon the arrogant and tyrant leader is, the very character that exemplifies this viewpoint. Antigone's spirit is filled with bravery, passion and fury; which allow her to symbolize the very essence of women. She is strong enough to do what her conscious tells her despite the laws of the land. Many examples in the play prove that Antigone's character is very capable of making her own decisions in the name of justice. First, Antigone opposes Creon's law and buries her slain brother; because in her mind it was immoral not to. She does this because she is compassionate and loves her brother very much. Creon, however, believes that his laws must be upheld and would do anything to prevent any type rebelling. He is even more infuriated when he learns that a woman has broken his laws. He tries to show Antigone who's in charge by sentencing her to a life of imprisonment. Secondly, Antigone shows how determined she is by accepting her consequences with pride. She does not try to hide that she is responsible for breaking Creon's laws, moreover, she takes all the credit. All the while she maintains her strength because she truly believes in her actions. These sorts of actions ultimately prove that Antigone is courageous and willing to stand up to men, which was completely against the norm at this time. Her spirit refuses to submit to the role of a helpless woman like her sister Ismene's character does.
Ismene is a coward and refuses to help her sister because she feared men. This fear propels her to turn her head to the disrespect that is been shown to her brother, Polyneices. Her character is a close representation of the viewpoints of the male gender regarding women. She is subordinate and weak-willed. She refuses to stand up to Creon even though in her heart she knows that his laws are morally wrong.